BILLINGS, Montana (ABC4) – A Montana man has been indicted on hate crime and firearm charges, after allegedly firing shots into a person’s home and threatening them with ” violent, homophobic slurs.”
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John Russell Howald, of Basin, Montana, has been charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and with the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, on March 22, 2020, Howald allegedly “attempted to injure an individual because of their actual and perceived sexual orientation by discharging a firearm into the individual’s house, stating that he wanted to ‘get rid of the lesbians [and] gays.’”
Howald was attempting to kill the person inside the house, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Howald is scheduled to appear in court on June 29. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison for the hate crime charge and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for the firearm charge.