‘Small Arsenal of Guns’ Found in Top-Floor Texas Hotel Room Hours Before New Year’s Celebration, Say Police

HOUSTON, Texas — Houston police found a “small arsenal” of guns in a top-floor hotel room just hours before a scheduled New Year’s Eve celebration. The hotel is an open-atrium design that could allow a shooter to fire upon the celebrating crowd.

UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: Houston police concluded their interview with the suspect and concluded they weapons were being stored in the hotel room “for safekeeping.”

Houston police have charged a man with assaulting a police officer and criminal trespass after they reported finding a number of firearms in his top-floor hotel. The hotel is the scene of one of Houston’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations. Officials said this is “not a Las Vegas” type of incident, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The suspect has been identified as Russell Lawrence Ziemba, 49, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday afternoon. 

Chief Acevedo later tweeted a response to someone asking if this conclusion was to “calm the fears of the people.” The chief tweeted:

UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted that the situation at the hotel is “contained.” He said there are “No specific threats.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that police found an AR-15, a shotgun, and a handgun, with many rounds of ammunition. Police are reportedly waiting for the as yet unidentified suspect to sober up before asking him why he came to the hotel with multiple firearms.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS: 

Just hours before a massive New Year’s Eve celebration at the Houston Hyatt Regency Hotel, an off-duty Houston police officer working security for the hotel encountered an allegedly intoxicated man who acted “erratically and belligerent,” KTRK ABC13 reported.

After having difficulty subduing the man, the officer called for “urgent backup.” The call went out at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

Responding officers found “a small arsenal of guns” in his top-floor hotel room, Click2Houston reported. The officers called investigators to the scene.

The detectives discovered more weapons in his vehicle.

The Hyatt Regency, located in downtown Houston, is a traditional New Year’s Eve hotspot for the Bayou City. The open-atrium hotel is staged to drop more than 5,000 ballons on partiers as the clock strikes midnight — signaling the arrival of 2018.

The open-atrium design of the hotel could allow the man a sniper-like position from the hallway of the top floor.

Police arrested the man on charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon and trespassing, KHOU CBS11 reported.

The suspect allegedly had ammunition in his room in addition to several firearms.

Hours later, a tow truck could be seen removing a white Chevrolet pickup truck from the hotel’s garage.

The Hyatt Regency is a gun-free zone according to its website. The hotel posts 30.06 and 30.07 signs to advise licensed handgun holders they may not carry a handgun, open or concealed, on the property. Other firearms and unlicensed gun owners would likely be prohibited from possessing firearms on site under state liquor laws.

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story that will be updated with new information as it becomes available.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGAB, and Facebook.


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