Montana man sentenced to 18 years for horrific anti-LGBTQ+ shooting spree

Basin, Montana - A Montana man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for firing shots into the home of a lesbian woman in a bid to drive all gay residents out of his town, officials said Wednesday.

John Russell Howald was sentenced to 18 years in prison for shooting at a lesbian woman's house in Basin, Montana.
John Russell Howald was sentenced to 18 years in prison for shooting at a lesbian woman's house in Basin, Montana.  © Montana Department of Corrections

John Russell Howald, of the Montana town of Basin, was convicted by a federal jury of a hate crime and firearms offenses in February after a four-day trial.

"Howald set out to rid the town of all LGBTQI+ members by killing them," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.

"He shot into the home of a lesbian resident, nearly killing her, with the hope of inspiring similar attacks around the country," Clarke said in a statement.

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The 46-year-old, who was armed with two assault rifles and other guns during the March 2020 rampage, then proceeded to seek out other members of Basin's LGBTQ+ community, the Justice Department said.

"Only the heroic and brave actions of residents and law enforcement, as well as some good fortune, prevented a targeted mass shooting," said US Attorney Jesse Laslovich.

Chief US District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Howald to 18 years in prison on Tuesday followed by five years of supervised release.

Cover photo: Montana Department of Corrections

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