Some people just seem focused on doing evil. They don’t care who they hurt. Half the time, they don’t seem to understand how they may even hurt their cause. They just want to hurt and kill people because that’s who they are.
Someone the authorities describe as one of those people is off the streets and sentenced to seven years in prison.
James Wesley Howell, 22, pleaded no contest to possession of an explosive chemical, malicious possession of a destructive device and illegal weapon activity, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Santa Monica police arrested Howell on June 12, 2016. Inside his car, police found three rifles — including an Anderson Manufacturing AM-15 .223 caliber rifle that police described as an assault weapon — and two 30-round magazines.
In addition to the guns, Howell was also driving with a full five-gallon container of gasoline and a 25-pound container of “Shoc-shot,” a commercially sold two-component explosive that detonates when hit by a high-velocity rifle round, Santa Monica police said at the time.
“The amount of explosives in the container would have posed a grave danger to both persons and property had the explosives been detonated, either intentionally or accidentally,” Santa Monica Det. Derek Leone wrote in a court filing in 2016.
Howell also had a black hood, a Taser, handcuffs, a Buck knife, a security badge and additional ammunition for the guns, court records show.
Now, it should be noted that police still don’t know why Howell was headed to Pride in L.A. The arrest came in the immediate aftermath of the Pulse shooting in Orlando.
Was Howell one of those who simply have to commit an evil act? Maybe, but maybe not.
Two 30-round magazines isn’t a lot of ammo, for one thing. While the presence of the gasoline and Shoc-shot is troubling, it could have alternate purposes. Don’t get me wrong, I get precisely why the police thought what they did. The fact that he had some of the other stuff…well, that kind of tells me he was up to no good.
With his no contest plea, though, he’s off the streets. He’s a felon and can’t legally purchase another gun, and that’s for the best.
People like that should worry us all. Had he carried out any kind of plan, especially right after the Pulse shooting, it would have been disastrous. Not only would there be the tragic loss of life and the life-altering injuries, but then there would be the additional push to restrict people’s right to keep and bear arms. We handled Pulse fine, but would that have been the case had there been a second attack so soon afterward? I’m not so sure.
Luckily, he’s locked up. That’s a win for society. I’m sure some will argue that he didn’t do anything, but I disagree. He was arrested, pled no contest to the charges, and is going to prison. Had he really done nothing, why isn’t he defending himself in court?
We’re just fortunate that whatever evil plan he had in mind, he couldn’t carry it out.