Authorities in Santa Monica, Calif. on Sunday detained a heavily armed man who had plans to do harm at a major Los Angeles-area pride event, stirring concerns about safety in the wake of the early morning mass shooting at a gay club in Florida.
The individual, identified as James Howell, 20, appeared to be unrelated to the Orlando shooting, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“Any possible nexus with this individual and the Pride event in West Hollywood is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the sheriff’s department said in its release.
He had “weapons and other dangerous material,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release, and was detained in Santa Monica on Sunday morning.
News of the arrest in California came hours after 50 people were killed and 53 others injured at Pulse, a gay bar and dance club in Orlando. The mass shooting was deemed the deadliest in U.S. history.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have enhanced our security presence for the event and have tactical units at the ready to prevent and respond to any circumstances,” said the statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families of this horrific attack which occurred in Orlando early this morning,” the release stated. “While there are no specific or credible threats received by law enforcement for the greater Los Angeles area, our personnel maintain a heightened state of situational awareness and remain vigilant in the protection of our communities.”
Santa Monica Police spokesman Saul Rodriguez told The Post that police were contacted at around 5 a.m. after someone spotted a man loitering and knocking on a door in a residential neighborhood. When authorities arrived on scene, they found him near his car.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Rob Kuznia and Sarah Larimer