Mesa man accused of impersonating officer at Payson High School arrested

Aug 24, 2021, 4:35 AM
Tatem Lincoln Collins (Payson Police Department photo)...
Tatem Lincoln Collins (Payson Police Department photo)
(Payson Police Department photo)

PHOENIX — A 20-year-old Mesa man accused of entering Payson High School with a gun and impersonating an officer on Sunday morning has been arrested, authorities said.

Tatem Lincoln Collins is facing felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct, burglary and impersonating an officer, along with a misdemeanor charge of misconduct involving weapons, the Payson Police Department said in a press release.

He was transferred from the Maricopa County Jail back to Payson on Monday morning and is being held in the Gila County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Collins just before 11 a.m. confronted a staff member of the school district claiming that he was a Payson police officer, police said.

The staff member locked himself in a room and called the police.

Payson police and three other agencies responded to the school and searched the building.

Video from school cameras showed the man leaving in a white Tacoma pickup truck with a woman passenger, police said.

An investigation determined the man’s vehicle may have been at a local hotel the night before, police said, with officers then searching area hotels in an attempt to find the vehicle and the suspect.

Surveillance video spotted the vehicle leaving a casino a short time after the call at the high school, with officers using that lead to locate Collins’ Mesa address, police said.

The gun that was displayed, a Taurus 9mm handgun, was recovered in the vehicle after Collins was arrested, police said.

While Payson police officers were in contact with Mesa police requesting assistance, authorities say family members of Collins convinced him to turn himself in at the Mesa Police Department.

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Mesa man accused of impersonating officer at Payson High School arrested