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A Montana man who shot at the home of an LGBTQ woman was found guilty of a federal hate crime and related firearms counts



Basin, Montana – On Friday, February 17, 2023, a federal jury found a Basin, Montana man guilty of the counts related to an event in March 2020 where he shot an AK-style weapon at the Basin residence of an LGBTQ woman.

After a four-day trial, John Russell Howald, 46, was found guilty of committing hate crimes and discharging a handgun during and in connection with a violent crime.

According to court documents, Howald aimed to eradicate Basin’s gay and lesbian population on March 22, 2020.

He approached the residence of a lady who was identified as a lesbian on foot while carrying three rifles and two pistols.

He shot at her residence with an assault weapon, striking the exterior with multiple shots and the interior of the wall with one round.

Although at home, the wife was unharmed.

After that, according to reports, Howald reportedly moved on to the houses of other LGBTQ community members until being stopped by others leaving a church service who made an effort to reason with him.

Howald persisted in firing shots and uttering threats toward Basin’s Homosexual community.

In response to a 911 call, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s office showed up and told Howald to lay down his firearms.

Howald refused and raised his firearm in the direction of the deputy before running away on foot and firing at least one round.

The next day, he was taken into custody.

On conviction for the hate crime, Howald faces up to life in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years of supervised release; on conviction for the firearm, he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,00 fine, and five years of supervised release.

On June 15, Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris will sentence him. Howald was held in custody while more action took place.

The matter was looked into by the FBI, ATF, and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

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