Just hours before the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States unfolded in Orlando, Los Angeles police thwarted what could have been yet another massacre at the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood.
Understandably, the media has remained focused firmly on the tragedy in Florida and its Muslim perpetrator, identified as Omar Mateen, and his religious ideologies, as well as his links to terrorism.
However, not many news organizations are paying the same amount of attention to James Wesley Howell, the man from Indiana who was headed to the LA pride festival, laden with guns, ammunition and explosive materials.
Despite the fact that Howell, 20, was previously arrested for pointing a gun at his neighbors, there are no pundits commenting on the suspect’s ideologies that might’ve inspired him to carry all the ammunition. Citing Indiana court records, the Los Angeles Times reports, “Howell was charged in October 2015 with intimidation and felony pointing a firearm at another person. On April 19, Howell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor intimidation, and prosecutors dropped the charge of pointing a firearm.”
Although Howell was headed to the LA pride event, he didn’t reveal his intentions to the police at the time of his arrest, contrary to initial reports that he intended to “harm” the LA event. According to the LA Times and the New York Daily News, the 20-year-old detainee is bisexual and bore “no ill will towards gay and lesbians.”
But his neighbors in Jacksonville, Indiana, were not surprised to hear about his arrest; with some saying Howell was notorious in the area for his gun collection.
“It doesn't surprise me too much. I knew the kid had weapons, but I mean it's obviously more extreme than what we thought,” Daniel Rumbley, who lives next door, told WLKY news channel
“This kid, unfortunately, has had a lot of disturbing signs, but the parents definitely need to take some responsibility here,” neighbor Kristopher Haire said.
Yet, there is no commentary on Howell’s inclination toward violence or possible links to terrorism.
The guy who tried to attack the pride parade in LA is white @ American media: yall better call him a terrorist too— nina's mom@movingcon (@marmarths) June 12, 2016
The white guy that went to LA pride to kill LGBT+ members will not be labeled as a terrorist. Just watch.— hannah (@hannahtaplin14) June 13, 2016
wild immediate contrast. white guy from IN, heading to LA pride heavily armed--in google's first 8 articles, "terror" does not arise once— Nimra (@thelastnimzy) June 13, 2016
Unfortunately, this discriminatory approach toward reporting when it comes to white or non-Muslim suspects is far too common.
Howell allegedly didn’t intend to harm the gay pride event, however, the fact that he was carrying a car load of “three assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammunition and a 5-gallon bucket with chemicals that could be used to make an explosive device,” makes him a potential threat to public security — or in the media’s words, a potential terror threat.