• The anti-gay attack happened on March 22, 2020
  • The man is scheduled to appear in court on June 29
  • He is already serving a sentence after being convicted on state charges over the same incident

A Montana man who once violently beheaded a dog has now been charged with hate crime and firearm violations for firing a gun into a person’s house and threatening him with homophobic slurs.

John Howald, 44, of Basin, was indicted on federal hate crime charges for the attack that happened on March 22, 2020, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on May 20 following an extensive investigation into the incident.

Prosecutors say that Howald is accused of firing a gun into the victim’s house, threatening him with anti-gay slurs, and stating that he wanted to “get rid of lesbians and gays,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

“Howald attempted to injure an individual because of their actual and perceived sexual orientation by discharging a firearm into the individual’s house,” it stated.

The federal indictment charges against Howald include the use of a firearm and an attempt to murder the victim during the attack. Howald is already serving a 10-year sentence on state criminal endangerment charges over the same incident, NY Daily News reported.

He earlier spent two years in jail for another gruesome attack. According to the court records, Howald was convicted in 2006 on animal cruelty charges after he violently shot and decapitated a dog with a chainsaw. Howald shot a chocolate Labrador dog several times and then beheaded the animal at a public campsite in Montana. He then grabbed the dog’s severed head and threw it to its owners who lived in a nearby campsite saying ‘Here is your f---ing dog back,” Law & Crime reported.

After the beheading, he also threw a beer bottle at a young boy who was on the campgrounds and discharged a firearm in his direction when the boy’s father attempted to confront him.

Online prison records show that Howald has multiple tattoos on his body including a swastika and a tribal band with a confederate flag.

If convicted on his latest federal charges for the homophobic attack, Howald could face up to life in prison on the hate crime charge and at least 10 years in prison for the firearm charge.

Howald is scheduled to be arraigned before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Great Falls on June 29.

Department of Justice
The Department of Justice Reuters