A heavily armed man who said he was heading to a Los Angeles-area pride parade was arrested early on Sunday in nearby Santa Monica, but there was no apparent link with the deadly mass shooting in Florida, authorities said.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said on her official Twitter account that the California suspect, identified as James Howell of Indiana, had been arrested on suspicion of possessing weapons and explosive materials. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the suspect was 20 years of age.
Seabrooks said the man told a Santa Monica police officer during his arrest “of wanting to harm (the) Gay Pride event.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, speaking at the opening of the LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood, a small municipality adjacent to Los Angeles, said separately that the man told police he was on his way to the parade there.
But Garcetti said the arrest appeared unrelated to Sunday’s Florida attack.
Seabrooks also said there was no known connection between Howell’s arrest and the shooting rampage early Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 50 people were killed and more than 50 others were wounded.
The lone gunman in the Florida massacre, the deadliest outburst of gun violence in U.S. history, was himself shot to death by police.
Garcetti pledged that the Los Angeles festival would proceed.
He said the arrest in Santa Monica, a seaside community west of Los Angeles, occurred after a tip from a suspicious resident.
The FBI was assisting in the investigation, Eimiller said.
According to law enforcement officials cited by the Los Angeles Times, a search of the suspect’s car turned up several weapons, ammunition and explosive powder.