A federal jury in Helena has convicted a Basin, Montana man of hate and firearms crimes for shooting at a woman's home just because she was a lesbian.  John Russell, Howald, 46, was found guilty after a four day trial of a hate crimes act and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke says this hate crime and violent campaign targeting the LGBTQ community is a reminder of the epidemic of hate violence targeting people based on their sexual orientation.  She added Howald was trying to wipe out the entire gay community in Basin.

According to court documents, Howald went on a self-described mission to rid the town of Basin of its lesbian and gay community.  On the day of March 20,2020 Howald was armed with three rifles and two pistols.  When he got to the home of the woman that he new was a lesbian, he opened fire on the home.  She was home at the time but was not hit.  He then proceeded to approach other homes of people he thought were gay but was stopped on a street by a group of churchgoers who were just getting out of a service.  A pastor, unknowingly left on a recording device and howald can be heard saying he may have just killed a lesbian and that he hoped he had and that he was going to go on and rid the town of all gays.  He was arrested the next day but not before he shot at police missing them.

He faces life in prison.  His sentencing is set for June 15.

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