Man to get guns back after being arrested on NYE with small arsenal inside downtown hotel room

By Cory McCord - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - A grand jury on Monday declared that there was insufficient evidence in the case of a man who was arrested after police found multiple guns inside his room on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston on New Year's Eve, and the man will get his weapons back, according to court records.

On Dec. 31, Russell Lawrence Ziemba, 49, was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon and trespassing, according to police. Authorities also said he kicked an officer during his arrest.

Ziemba's attorney said the hotel security video wasn't clear enough to show if Ziemba kicked an officer during his arrest.

During the arrest, police found ammunition and guns inside Ziemba's hotel room, according to authorities.

A pistol, shotgun, rifle, multiple magazines and more than 50 bullets will be returned to Ziemba.

After he was released, Ziemba was treated for alcohol addiction and PTSD, according to his attorney.

Ziemba is a Gulf War veteran who was decorated for his bravery.

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 KPRC.

Another neighbor said Ziemba would come over to his house often, that Ziemba was usually drunk when he came over and that Ziemba came 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, two or three times that night at 1 (o'clock) in the morning until he finally gave up,” Devante Lacy said.

The Hyatt was preparing for a New Year's Eve celebration at the hotel with a 50,000-balloon drop at the stroke of midnight, its website said. Ziemba was in a room on the 28th floor overlooking the lobby where the balloons were to be dropped.

The incident happened three months after a gunman perched in a high-rise hotel in Las Vegas killed 58 people. A month after that shooting, 26 Texans were killed by a gunman at a church in Sutherland Springs.

Ziemba's white Chevrolet Silverado was located and towed. It was searched and examined, authorities said.

Ziemba told police he had been at the hotel to celebrate New Year's Eve and admitted that he had been drinking for a few days, Houston police said.

Ziemba told investigators that he took the weapons to the hotel room because he didn't want them to be stolen from his vehicle, which was parked in the garage.

Houston investigators said they don't believe Ziemba had any intention of using the weapons.

Ziemba has prior arrests for DWI and was free on bond on a weapons charge when he was arrested at the hotel.

Ziemba and his attorney declined to discuss the case. He is still facing a misdemeanor trespassing charge related to the incident.

Copyright 2018 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.