Montana Man Receives 18-Year Sentence for Targeted LGBTQ+ Shooting

A man in Montana was given an 18-year jail term for hate crime and firearms charges after he shot into a residence with the stated goal of “ridding a town of LGBTQ+ residents,” according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.

On Thursday, the Justice Department announced that John Russell Howald, a resident of Basin, Montana, was found guilty of a hate crime in February for attempting to murder a lady “known within the town as lesbian” by firing a revolver at her home.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division stated, “This defendant is being held accountable for his horrific attempted mass shooting against the LGBTQI+ community in a Montana town,”

Howald walked up to the house of the unidentified victim and opened fire, firing many times inside. He had two assault rifles, a hunting rifle, two handguns, and multiple high-capacity magazines taped together to facilitate rapid reloading.

The tweet below verifies the news:

After that, Howald “went further into town intending to target others he perceived to be lesbian, queer, and gay,” according to the Justice Department. FBI Director Steven Dettelbach stated that Howald was “Motivated by hatred of the LGBTQI+ community” and that he “sought to intimidate — even terrorize — an entire community by shooting into the victim’s home trying to kill her for no reason other than her sexual orientation.”

Because Howald “distinctly un-American” for depriving her of her sense of safety, freedom and privacy all at once.The Justice Department claims that local Basin residents who were leaving church at the time and knew Howald were able to delay him until a deputy arrived.

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The DOJ claims that residents accidentally videotaped Howald ranting and firing again before the deputy arrived, and that he stated his intention to “clean” the area of LGBTQ+ individuals. When the deputy came, Howald pointed an AK-style gun at him before running into the hills.

According to the Justice Department, Howald was apprehended the following day with a loaded pistol and knife, and other weapons were found in his vehicle and camper. “The unfortunate reality is bigotry and hate exist in our communities.

Still, as a diverse nation, we will not tolerate violence motivated by such bias,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheyvoryea Gibson of the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office.  “The harm and trauma experienced by the victim, her family, and the entire community may be irreparable, but rest assured, the FBI is committed to protecting the civil rights of all.”

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