SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — A heavily armed man arrested early Sunday in Southern California told police he was in the area for West Hollywood’s huge gay pride parade, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
Garcetti announced the arrest while attending the kickoff of LA Pride, an event that draws hundreds of thousands of people annually that this year came just hours after at least 50 people were killed by a gunman at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
A law-enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that guns and explosive materials were found in the suspect’s vehicle. The person spoke on condition of anonymity, citing a lack of authorization to speak publicly about the investigation.
Gay Pride Explosives Arrest
Police in Santa Monica, where the arrest occurred, would not immediately confirm the incident.
At the scene, police searched a white four-door Acura sedan parked facing the wrong direction on a busy thoroughfare in a mostly residential area of the seaside city west of Los Angeles. There were red plastic gas cans near the car.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said the suspect told police that he was going to the pride parade to look for a friend. Authorities are now looking for that person.
Santa Monica Police spokesman Saul Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times that detectives are “not aware of what the suspect’s intentions were at this point.”
Neighbors called police after the man was spotted knocking on doors and “loitering in the area,” Rodriguez said.
Garcetti said the arrest came following a tip from a “neighborhood person.”
Authorities did not know of any connection between the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday and the Santa Monica arrest.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials say they’re assisting with the investigation, and there was no immediate threat to Sunday’s event.
The organizers of the Pride event said in a statement before the parade that “we are heartbroken that so many of our brothers, sisters and allies were lost in this tragic attack.” Organizers said the tragedy made them all the more determined to continue with plans.
“Our brave founders made this happen to show the world who we are,” the statement said. “We will be loud. We will be proud, and we will celebrate in honor of all those lost.”