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PD: Man arrested after impersonating officer during robbery at Payson High School armed with gun

Tatem Lincoln Collins.png
Payson armed robbery suspect
Posted at 5:22 PM, Aug 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 18:42:27-04

PAYSON, AZ — Police say an armed man who entered Payson High School and confronted an employee inside Sunday morning is in custody.

Tatem Lincoln Collins, 20, has been booked into jail Monday on multiple felony charges, police say.

Payson armed burglary suspect

Authorities say Collins approached a school employee and claimed he was a Payson police officer. The employee then locked himself in a room and was not harmed and was able to call 911.

Payson PD, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Gila County Sheriff's Office and Tonto Apache Police responded to the school and located the employee and escorted him out of the building while they began their search for Collins.

Investigators say before officers arrived, the man was seen on security footage leaving the building and campus in a newer-model white Toyota Tacoma with an unidentified woman.

Police say they have reason to believe the woman may be connected to the high school in some way.

Payson armed burglary suspect's vehicle

Officials say the vehicle was seen at a local hotel and casino Saturday night. Authorities were able to use security camera footage captured from the casino Sunday after the call from the high school to track him down to a home in Mesa.

Family members of Collins were able to convince him to turn himself into the Mesa Police Department and was booked into Maricopa County Jail.

Collins was then transferred to Payson, along with his vehicle for processing.

Authorities originally said this may have been a burglary attempt, so they have been working closely with PUSD Superintendent Linda Gibson to ensure students are kept safe.

Police say there is no indication of any threat to any Payson campus at this time, but extra officers have been assigned to the school Monday to prevent any potential threat.

Collins is facing multiple charges including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, disorderly conduct, misconduct involving weapons, burglary, and impersonating an officer.