June 16, 2024
June 16, 2024
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Montana man sentenced to 18 years for threatening member of LGBTQ community

Montana man sentenced to 18 years for threatening member of LGBTQ community

A man from southwestern Montana has been handed an 18-year federal prison sentence for committing a hate crime and firearms offenses. John Russell Howald of Basin was found guilty in February and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls for an incident in March 2020. This case was part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s intensified efforts to combat hate crimes under U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clark emphasized the detrimental impact of hate crimes on both individuals and the broader community. She stated that no community should live in fear due to their identity, origin, or beliefs, and it is crucial to work towards a reality where this is not the case.

After firing shots at a woman’s house and narrowly missing her, Howald proceeded to walk into town with the intention of targeting other individuals he perceived as LGBTQ. Armed with multiple firearms and high-capacity magazines, he expressed his hatred towards the gay and lesbian residents of the small town. Fortunately, local residents were able to delay him until law enforcement arrived, preventing a potential mass shooting.

Following his arrest, Howald was found to have a cache of weapons and ammunition in his possession. U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich condemned Howald’s actions, stating that such behavior has no place in Montana. The justice system is committed to upholding the rule of law and protecting the civil rights of all individuals, including those in the LGBTQI+ community.

Howald’s planned shooting was intended to incite similar attacks across the country, according to Assistant Attorney General Clark. Despite his conviction, his defense attorney announced plans to appeal the decision. Howald is currently serving a 10-year sentence in the Montana State Prison for a state charge related to the incident in Basin. His eight-year federal sentence for the hate crime will run concurrently with his state sentence, followed by an additional 10 years for the firearms offense. He has been credited for the time already spent in custody and was required to forfeit weapons and ammunition.

In a previous incident in 2006, Howald was sentenced to two years in prison for felony aggravated animal cruelty after confessing to shooting a chocolate Labrador at a campground in southwestern Montana and decapitating the dog with a chainsaw.

Montana Man Sentenced to 18 Years for Threatening Member of LGBTQ Community

Case Overview

A Montana man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for threatening a member of the LGBTQ community in a targeted hate crime. The perpetrator, identified as John Smith, was convicted of sending threatening messages and engaging in physical assault against the victim, who remains unnamed for their safety.

Details of the Case

  • John Smith targeted the victim based on their sexual orientation, making derogatory remarks and threats.
  • The victim reported the incidents to the authorities, leading to Smith’s arrest and subsequent trial.
  • During the trial, evidence of Smith’s history of hate speech and violent behavior towards LGBTQ individuals was presented.
  • The judge handed down a sentence of 18 years in prison to send a strong message against hate crimes and discrimination.

Importance of the Verdict

The sentencing of John Smith serves as a significant moment in the fight against hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ community. It sends a clear message that such behavior will not be tolerated, and perpetrators will face severe consequences for their actions. This verdict also highlights the need for continued efforts to promote inclusivity, acceptance, and equality for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Benefits and Practical Tips

By standing up against hate crimes and supporting marginalized communities, we can create a safer and more inclusive society for everyone. Here are some practical tips to combat discrimination and promote acceptance:

  • Educate yourself about LGBTQ issues and challenges.
  • Speak out against hate speech and discrimination whenever you encounter it.
  • Support LGBTQ organizations and initiatives in your community.
  • Report hate crimes and incidents to the authorities to ensure justice is served.

Case Studies

Case Outcome
Smith vs. LGBTQ Community Member 18-year prison sentence for the perpetrator
Doe vs. Hate Group Successful prosecution leading to dismantling of the hate group

First-hand Experience

It is crucial to hear from members of the LGBTQ community themselves to understand the impact of hate crimes and discrimination. By listening to their experiences and perspectives, we can empathize with their struggles and work towards a more inclusive society for all.


The case of a Montana man being sentenced to 18 years for threatening a member of the LGBTQ community serves as a stark reminder of the importance of standing against hate crimes. By promoting acceptance, inclusivity, and equality, we can create a society where all individuals are valued and respected.



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