Are we going to have to be on our toes this Pride season? Was Orlando just one attack of many? As of now, the incidents seem unrelated. We cannot be afraid to celebrate, but there may need to be more security for our Pride events.
Authorities in Santa Monica found possible explosives as well as assault rifles and ammunition Sunday in the car of a man who told them he was in town for the L.A. Pride festival in West Hollywood, a law enforcement source said.
Early Sunday, Santa Monica police received a call of a suspected prowler near Olympic Boulevard and 11th Street. Patrol officers responded and encountered an individual who told officers he was waiting for a friend. That led officers to inspect the car and find several weapons and a lot of ammunition as well as tannerite, an ingredient that could be used to create a pipe bomb.
The car had Indiana plates. The man made comments that he was in town for the Pride event in West Hollywood this weekend. The source said authorities did not know of any connection between the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., early Sunday morning and the Santa Monica incident. The investigation has been taken over by the FBI. The source said the man appeared to be white.
A city official in West Hollywood also confirmed the arrest and stressed that officials were beefing up security at the gay pride event.
"They found him with weapons that were very disconcerting," said the source, adding officials are "taking the appropriate safety precautions."
The parade comes hours after the attack at the Orlando club that killed 50 people. At least 53 were injured in the deadliest shooting in modern American history after a gunman took hostages. The gunman has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S. law enforcement official said.
One source in West Hollywood said there was discussion of calling off the parade but that officials decided to go forward, with heavy security including undercover officers in the crowd.
The sources spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath said in a statement that Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials are stepping up security efforts around Sunday’s parade and other festivities. But she said officials do not believe there is any threat around Sunday’s activities.
“We are hearing absolutely devastating news reports from Orlando this morning,” she said. “Gun violence on the LGBTQ family during Pride Month makes me sick. The deadliest mass shooting in America happened to LGBTQ people on Latin night. While we mourn this heartbreaking loss, we must also rededicate ourselves to the fight for full equality for all people. No one is equal unless everyone is equal.”
A reporter for ProPublica tweeted out a Sheriff’s Department bulletin detailing the arrest.
For a time that is supposed to be of celebration, love, and acceptance, it will also have to be more than ever a time of remembrance, honor, and reflection.