A 29-year-old heavily armed man was arrested Thursday at the Phoenix Comicon thanks to a tip from a friend who said the man had violent plans for the gathering.
Mathew Sterling was apprehended following a brief struggle with police officers. He was found to be in possession of a shotgun, three .45-caliber handguns, a combat knife, pepper spray, and throwing stars. Sterling was also wearing body armor under his clothing. And all of the items were real, not props.
A friend of Sterling called the Hawthorne Police Department in California after the friend received Facebook messages from Sterling declaring that he “was going to be in a showdown with cops and would kill them.” The messages also contained photos of police officers at the convention.
During his arrest, Sterling apparently explained to the officers that he could tell the difference between “good” and “bad” cops. Sterling also revealed that he believed himself to be “The Punisher,” a fictional comic book character whose sole purpose became to punish evildoers after his family was brutally murdered by the mob.
Authorities also learned Sterling had a plan to assassinate Jason David Frank, a Phoenix Comicon guest best known for playing the part of the original green ranger in the 90s TV series The Power Rangers. In fact, Sterling had a reminder to do so set on the calendar of his smartphone. The reminder said, “Kill JDF.”
Sterling, whose actions will bring about “big security changes” for future comicons, was charged with attempted murder, 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.
[ ABC 15 ]