Russel Lawrence Ziemba was arrested in the Hyatt Regency Downtown in Houston, Texas New Years Eve.
He’s been charged with criminal trespassing and assault on an officer — then they made a grave discovery in his hotel room.
Early in the morning, he was asked to leave the hotel after he became drunk and belligerent toward other guests. Police later discovered ammunition and three guns, including an assault rifle, in his hotel room on the 28th floor.
Upon questioning, Ziemba told police that he had basically been drunk for days and that he had no ill intent with the weapons. He was storing them in his room out of concern that they may be stolen from his truck, otherwise.
The questioning wasn’t short, it lasted HOURS. They investigated his claims further and do believe he had no intent to use the weapons in a Vegas copycat shooting, according to HPD Chief Art Acevedo.
This isn’t Ziemba’s first time getting in trouble with the law due to weapons. He was previously arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon.
“He got on everybody’s nerves,” said customer Robert Blackmon. “He was very arrogant.”
Employees said he had a crossbow and a number of other guns in his truck, including a handgun that wasn’t holstered. Ziemba was arrested. Employees said they warned officers he’d be trouble.
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.
The managing director at the Hyatt Regency Houston, Tom Netting, issued the following statement in response to the arrest:
The safety and security of our guests and colleagues is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with authorities on an ongoing investigation after an individual was taken into their custody this morning. Please be assured that heightened security measures are in place and will continue through the hotel’s New Year’s Eve celebration this evening. Further questions should be directed to law enforcement.
The arrest comes just hours before the hotel is set to host its annual New Year’s Eve celebration.
Here’s a timeline of events:
About 1:00 a.m.: An off-duty police officer encountered a man in the hotel lobby. The man was reportedly drunk and acting belligerent.
1:30 a.m.: The off-duty officer made a call for “urgent backup” when attempts to get the man to return to his room failed.
About 2:00 a.m.: Officers arrived at the hotel to assist with the man. They quickly discovered the man had several weapons and ammunition in his hotel room. A search of his vehicle also turned up weapons and ammunition.
2:49 a.m.: The suspect was transported to Southeast Jail for questioning.