Gay Pride-Bound Gunman Fled During Child Molestation Investigation

6/15/2016 11:55 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

The man bound for the West Hollywood Pride Parade and armed with an arsenal fled to California in the middle of an investigation targeting him for having sex with a 12-year-old girl.

TMZ has learned James Howell has just been charged with felony child molestation. Howell is accused of having sex in a car with the girl on May 31 ... less than 2 weeks before the parade.

Jeremy Mull, the prosecutor in the Indiana case, tells us authorities believe he left for California in flight, after getting a call from cops and going to the station for an interview.

Authorities in Santa Monica -- where he was arrested -- say he was actually in the area to meet up with a man he met online.