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Man with arsenal of weapons, chemicals said he wanted to go to Los Angeles PrideFest arrested

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LOS ANGELES -- A "heavily armed" man who told police he wanted to go the Los Angeles Pride festival was arrested in Santa Monica, authorities said Sunday, June 12th -- the same day as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.

Officers responded to the 1700 block of 11th Street, near Olympic Boulevard, after residents reported a possible prowler shortly around 5:00 a.m., according to Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks and a news release from the department.

The suspect was knocking on a resident's door and window, which prompted the 911 call, the release stated.

James Wesley Howell

James Wesley Howell

Officers responded to the location and made contact with James Wesley Howell, who was seated in a car with Indiana license plates, according to the release.

During the subsequent investigation, police found three assault rifles, high capacity magazines, ammunition and a five-gallon bucket "with chemicals capable of forming an improvised explosive device," authorities said.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department bomb squad was sent to the scene to render the car and the area safe, the release stated.Los Angeles arrest ahead of Pride paradeSeabrooks later tweeted that Howell, of Indiana, allegedly told an officer "of wanting to harm Gay Pride event during arrest for weapons and explosive materials possession."

But at a news conference just before 3:00 p.m., a male Santa Monica police official clarified the information, saying the man referenced the pride festival, but said he did not state his intentions beyond that.

"We did not have any additional information as to what his intentions were," the official said, describing the earlier tweet as a "misquote."

The investigation into a possible motive was ongoing.

Los Angeles Interim Undersheriff Neal Tyler said so far, there is no connection to the attack at the gay nightclub in Orlando, and no conclusive connection to an Los Angeles Pride threat other than the man saying he was there to attend the festival. Authorities are searching for a friend of the man to question, he said.

20-year-old Howell was booked into jail around 11:30 a.m. and is behind held on $500,000 according to Los Angeles County inmate records. His first court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14th.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti earlier confirmed the incident during a news conference in West Hollywood shortly before the parade's scheduled kickoff at 10:45 a.m.

"Today, we were also informed of ... an individual here ... who said he was coming to Pride, and who was heavily armed and apprehended by Santa Monica Police Department officials last night," the mayor said.

In a statement released a short time after the mayor's comments, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the male was "in possession of weapons and other dangerous material."

The announcement came hours after a shooting rampage at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, left 50 people dead and at least 53 others injured. The shooting rampage is the deadliest on American soil.

Garcetti said the incident was not linked to the deadly attack in Orlando, while Seabrooks added that he had "no known connect" to Florida.

There were "no known credible threats" to the area following the Orlando attack, according to the Sheriff's Department's statement.

Security tightened at the parade, which went off after federal and local law enforcement decided not to cancel the annual event, the Times reported.

“We are here … to say as Americans, we will not shrink away, we will not be stuck in our homes, we will not go back into the closets; we are out here to march, to celebrate and to mourn," Garcetti said.

The Santa Monica incident remained under investigation by police, the Sheriff's Department and the FBI.

According to TMZ, Howell was arrested less than a year ago for a pointing a gun in a threatening manner. 

Howell got in an argument with his Indiana neighbor last October when he pulled a gun in anger.  He was arrested and charged with pointing a firearm at another, as well as intimidation.

Powell copped a plea -- the firearm charge was dropped, and he pleaded to intimidation.  Howell is currently on one year probation for that crime.

James Wesley Howell - 2015 mugshot (PHOTO: TMZ)

James Wesley Howell - 2015 mugshot (PHOTO: TMZ)

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