A man was arrested at the Phoenix Comic Con on Thursday after sneaking several guns into the show. The man, 31-year-old Matthew Sterling was said to be carrying several guns and other real weapons in an attempt to hurt police officers. He admitted to knowing that real guns were banned, but he was exempt from that rule because “he was the Punisher.” His mission was to target “bad police officers”, something the actual comic book character did in storyline.
After his arrest, police interrogated Sterling and learned of his real intention. He was in attendance targeting frequent Comic Con guest, Jason David Frank. Police found a note attached to Sterling’s smartphone calendar for May 25th, that read “Kill JDF.” Thankfully this individual was apprehended before he could do any harm. After the initial shock, Frank held a press conference with police to offer a statement.
Near the middle of his conference, JDF did bring up a very good point about security at Comic Cons. As one who frequently attends cons myself, I am always amazed at the lack of checkpoints or actual security present. It always appeared that if someone were to want to bring an actual weapon into a con, it would be relatively easy. Sure, there’s a typical bag check policy enforced, but most of them are so unbelievably relaxed, it’s a wonder something like this hadn’t happened sooner. I agree with JDF’s sentiment that there needs to be heightened security and perhaps more check points at events like this. Phoenix Comic Con is one example, but perhaps even more relevant would be the tragedy at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester.
Cosplay is something that should be fun and exciting for everyone, but most importantly, it should be safe. The Phoenix Comic Con went a little extreme with their safety measures by banning props of all kinds for the duration of the event. While I don’t agree with going that far, this is obviously a discussion that organizers are going to have to have, in order to keep the events fun, and safe for everybody involved.
Matthew Sterling was charged with one count of attempted murder, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, wearing body armor during the commission of a felony, resisting arrest and carrying a weapon in a prohibited place. He is being held on a $1 Million Dollar cash bond.