John Howald, 46, opened fire at the woman’s home in Basin, Montana in March 2020 and set off to shoot others while shouting anti-gay slurs and saying he wanted to “clean” the small community by killing all the gay and lesbian people.
A jury convicted Howald in February of a hate crime and a count that deals with discharging a firearm during a hate crime.
Howald’s attorneys argued in a sentencing memorandum that at the time, Howald had been suffering from emotional trauma, he was very drunk and “he had long struggled with his own sexuality.”
Prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo that Howald had two assault rifles, a hunting rifle, two pistols and high-capacity magazines that had been taped together for faster reloading on the day of the shooting.
Via The DOJ:
“This defendant is being held accountable for his horrific attempted mass shooting against the LGBTQI+ community in a Montana town,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Howald set out to rid the town of all LGBTQI+ members by killing them. He shot into the home of a lesbian resident, nearly killing her, with the hope of inspiring similar attacks around the country. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend the rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, to be free from hate-fueled violence. This Pride Month, we affirm our commitment to using the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act to hold perpetrators of hate-fueled violence targeting the LGBTQI+ community accountable.”
Howald fired 11 shots into the woman’s home and fired five more in the middle of town while arguing with residents who were trying to get him to stop, prosecutors said, and also stated that he wanted to start a “revolution” and inspire other attacks.
Basin is a community of around 200 people in the western part of Montana, a little more than 20 miles southwest of Helena