A heavily-armed man identified as 31-year-old Mathew Sterling entered the Phoenix Comic-Con with a plan to kill “bad police officers” and former Green Power Ranger Jason David Frank, court records show. Mathews was apprehended quickly at the event, and after some investigating of his personal items, police say he had “set a calendar reminder in his phone to alert him to kill the victim at Comicon on May 25th.” Mathews took put photos posing with his weapons on social media and was quickly reported. Within 11 minutes of being called, police were on the scene, subduing Mathews who fought against being arrested.
Mathews had a small arsenal of fully-loaded weapons on his person, including two 45-caliber handguns, a .454-caliber handgun, and a 12-gauge shotgun with shells draped across his chest, as well as a combat knife, pepper spray and throwing stars. According to a police statement, he’s being charged with attempted murder, three counts of aggravated assault, wearing body armor during the commission of a felony, resisting arrest, and carrying a weapon in a prohibited place. Mathews has been booked and has a $1 million cash bond set.
Jason David Frank, learning he was a target, addressed the media:
“You will start hearing stuff on social media. I’m fine. I’m okay. Love y’all. Even though it looks like things don’t faze me, I refuse to have a situation tear me apart mentally. You gotta remember, things could always be worse. Things could’ve been worse. But it wasn’t. You know, everyone is safe, things are okay, and it’s a great thing.” (h/t i09)
It’s extremely concerning that Mathews was able to make his way into the Con, bypassing checkpoints that would normally be used to inspect prop weapons used by cosplayers. In response to this issue, authorities have added additional screening and security to the event, and have also taken measures to ensure that all prop weapons sold by vendors are kept in their packaging until leaving the event.