- A man in Houston is facing multiple charges after the police found a small arsenal of weapons and ammunition in his hotel room.
- Employees at the Hyatt Regency initially called the police early Sunday morning because the man was drunk at the hotel bar and refused to leave. The police later found an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, and ammunition in his top-floor room.
- The police identified the man as Russell Lawrence Ziemba, 49. Investigators said they did not think Ziemba intended to use the weapons.
Police officers in Texas arrested a man on charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon after they found an AR-15 rifle, a shotgun, a handgun, and ammunition in his top-floor hotel room at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston.
Hotel employees initially called the police early Sunday morning after Russell Lawrence Ziemba, 49, refused to leave a bar, the local news station KPRC reported. Responding police officers called for backup at 1:30 a.m. local time and found ammunition “lying around the man’s hotel room,” according to Houston Police Lt. Gordon Macintosh.
Law-enforcement officials said Ziemba told them he had planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve and had been “drinking for a few days,” KPRC said, citing the Houston police. Chief Art Acevedo said Ziemba told investigators he brought the weapons to his room because he feared they might be stolen from a truck that he parked in a garage.
A gun show was underway at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston on Sunday, but the police have not said whether Ziemba had visited the show or acquired his weapons from there.
Investigators said they did not think Ziemba intended to use the weapons found in his room. Acevedo said there were no specific threats to Houston ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations getting underway Sunday night. The Hyatt Regency, which was planning festivities of its own, said in a 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.”
The ability of visitors to bring multiple weapons into hotels was a focus of the Las Vegas massacre in October, during which a gunman fired on concertgoers at a music festival from a hotel room where he had amassed a weapons cache. Fifty-eight people were killed and nearly 600 people were injured in what was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Law-enforcement agencies in the US and around the world stepped up measures to protect revelers celebrating New Year’s Eve. The New York Police Department conducted specialized training to help officers stop potential suicide bombers, Reuters reported.
In Las Vegas, snipers and spotters, along with additional air support, were on hand, with federal authorities stationed at mobile command posts there.