A Montana man was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 years in prison for firing an assault rifle into a woman’s home and trying to rid a town of LGBTQ residents.
John Howald, 46, of Basin, Montana, was convicted of the hate crime by a federal jury in February, the Justice Department said in a statement announcing the sentence handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris.
After firing at the residence, he walked through Basin – a community of about 200 people – intending to target others he perceived as LGBTQ, it said. The town is about 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Butte, Montana.
Residents, who heard about Howald’s self-described anti-LGBTQ mission, were able to restrain him until law enforcement officers arrested him, the department said.
“Howald set out to rid the town of all LGBTQI+ members by killing them,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
Howald was armed with two assault rifles, a hunting rifle, two pistols and multiple high-capacity magazines that were taped together to speed reloading, the statement said.
Howald’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier this month, the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in the United States, declared its first national state of emergency, citing the proliferation of anti-LGBTQ legislation in statehouses across the country.
President Joe Biden has also warned about “ugly” attacks from “hysterical” people who are targeting LGBTQ Americans.