Police believe man found with small arsenal at Hyatt Regency downtown had no intent to use
HOUSTON – A man has been arrested on multiple charges after police located a small arsenal of guns on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency on Louisiana Street downtown, Houston police said.
He has been identified as 49-year-old Russell Lawrence Ziemba.
Police at the hotel called for backup around 1:30 a.m. Sunday after they attempted to arrest Ziemba for being intoxicated and trespassing. When help arrived, police noticed ammunition lying around the man's hotel room, Lt. Gordon Macintosh with Houston police said.
He was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon and trespassing. When investigators looked into his room further, they located an AR-15, a shotgun, a handgun and lots of ammunition, Macintosh said.
Ziemba was extremely depressed and intoxicated when he was arrested, NBC News reported, citing several senior law enforcement officials.
NBC added that the man allegedly told officers that he loves the U.S., is an Army veteran, and did not intend to harm anyone.
Just hours before he was arrested, Ziemba spoke to his next door neighbor, Gabino Ramirez, telling him he was going out of town.
“He was just normal you know. He asked me if he could put his grill inside my garage to keep it out of the weather”, Ramirez told Channel 2 News.
Another neighbor said Ziemba would come over to his house often, that Ziemba was usually drunk at the time and that Ziemba caime to his house several days ago and was trying to get into his home.
“He knocked at the door. He tried to open the door. He just kept seeing if it was open. And he came by like 2 or 3 times that night at one in the morning until he finally gave up,” Devante Lacy said.
The Hyatt is preparing its own New Year's Eve celebration at the hotel with a 50,000-balloon drop at the stroke of midnight, its website said.
Ziemba's white Chevrolet Silverado was located and towed to be searched and examined, Macintosh said.
Ziemba told police he was at the hotel to celebrate New Year's and admitted to drinking for a few days, Houston police said.
Ziemba told investigators that he brought the weapons because he didn't want them to be stolen from his vehicle parked in the garage.
Houston investigators said they don't believe there was any intent to use the weapons at all.
Situation from this morning at downtown hotel is contained. No specific threats to @HoustonTX. @houstonpolice will be heavily deployed throughout the city to include SWAT react teams. Proud of officers & Hyatt. As always be vigilant & report suspicious a activity to authorities.— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) December 31, 2017
Police said Ziemba is facing trespassing charges even though he was a hotel guest. He was asked to leave repeatedly and did not comply.
He also faces a charge of assault of a peace officer because of the struggle with the officer.
Suspect in Hyatt Regency incident identified as Russell Lawrence Ziemba (w/m, 49). Faces assault of peace officer & criminal trespass charges. No photo available at this time #hounews— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) December 31, 2017
The Hyatt Regency Houston has released the following statement:
The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is our top priority, and consistent with the hotel’s prepared security plans, heightened measures are in place on New Year’s Eve. We are fully cooperating with authorities on an investigation, and further questions should be directed to the Houston Police Department.
A gun show at George R. Brown Convention Center was also held downtown Sunday. There is no information linking Ziemba in this incident to the gun show as of Sunday afternoon.
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