SWAT Teams 'Heavily Deployed' After Guns, Ammo Found in Hotel Room Overlooking New Years Event


Authorities in Houston arrested a man Sunday morning on multiple charges after finding a “small arsenal” of weapons in his Hyatt Regency hotel room.

The discovery led Houston Police to heavily deploy officers and SWAT teams throughout the surrounding city, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The hotel itself had planned a New Year’s Eve celebration, where it was estimated that hundreds of people would attend to watch a planned 50,000-balloon drop.

The suspect, Russell Lawrence Ziemba, 49, had become intoxicated at the Regency’s bar and refused to leave, prompting staff to call for assistance.

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However, as hotel security attempted to send the argumentative guest back up to his room on the 28th floor, he began fighting with them and Houston police were quickly called to the scene.

The officer who arrived initially planned to arrest Ziemba for trespassing, according to The Houston Chronicle, but after discovering the ammunition in Ziemba’s hotel room, backup was called.

Found within Ziemba’s room — which overlooked the scene of Hyatt’s planned celebration — was an AR-15, a shotgun and a handgun, along with numerous rounds of ammunition.

At the time of his arrest, it was still unclear as to why Ziemba had the weapons at all, and Houston police had to wait for the suspect to become sober in order to question him.

Authorities also towed Ziemba’s truck but found no weapons inside it.

By early afternoon, police stated they had questioned the 49 year-old, but found no motive or sign of violence.

“Based on limited amount of ammunition, interview and other investigative findings no unlawful intent found,” said Police Chief Art Acevedo in a tweet.

Though it declined to offer any other statement, the FBI confirmed it was assisting with the case.

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An official involved said that it appeared all three guns found were legally owned, and Ziemba himself made no threats of any kind.

The suspect does have a minor criminal record, reports said, with a Dec. 23 misdemeanor arrest for allegedly carrying a handgun in his car, and two convictions for drunk driving.

However, despite it all, the Hyatt still held its celebration, with security on the alert for any suspicious activity and a statement that reassured its dedication to its guests’ safety.

“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,” hotel manager Tom Netting said in a statement.

“We are fully cooperating with authorities on an investigation, and further questions should be directed to the Houston Police Department.”

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ASU grad who loves all things reading and writing.
Becky is an ASU grad who uses her spare time to read, write and play with her dog, Tasha. Her interests include politics, religion, and all things science. Her work has been published with ASU's Normal Noise, Phoenix Sister Cities, and "Dramatica," a university-run publication in Romania.
Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing
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