John Russell Howald

BILLINGS, Mont. - A Basin man has been charged after reportedly firing a gun into a home and threatening the individual with violent, homophobic slurs.

The DOJ reports the indictment alleges that on March 22 of 2020, 44-year-old John Russell Howald tried to injure a person because of their actual and perceived sexual orientation.

Howald reportedly fired a gun into the person’s house, stating that he wanted to, “get rid of the lesbians [and] gays.” The offense included an attempt to kill the individual.

Howald is scheduled for an arraignment on June 29 before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Great Falls. 

John Russell Howald is charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and with the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

If convicted, Howald faces up to life in prison on the hate crime charge and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, on the firearm charge.


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