More details have emerged via the Arizona Republic surrounding the arrest of Matthew Sterling, who according to Phoenix Police arrived on Thursday at Phoenix Comicon carrying weapons with the intend to target specific individuals including Power Rangers actor Jason David Frank. As noted in the probable cause filing against Sterling, weapons recovered from him included:
A TWELVE GAUGE SHOTGUN, TWO 45 CALIBER HANDGUNS, ONE .454 CALIBER HANDGUN, A COMBAT KNIFE, PEPPER SPRAY AND THROWING STARS
Police indicated that it appears that Sterling had gone there with the intent to target some very specific individuals, including Green Power Ranger actor, Jason David Frank, and “Aphrodite police officers” (which is his term for whomever he deems to be a “bad” police officer). He told police during the interview that he had managed to slip by security guard and weapons-check stations and get to an upper floor of the convention center. He had even gone so far as to set a phone reminder to himself to kill Frank on the 25th.
He also said that he was aware of the prohibition against live firearms at the convention but believed that while they applied to other people, they didn’t apply to him because he is the Punisher. The Punisher is one of Marvel Comics’ darker-sided vigilante characters.
His plot began to unravel after he began to post photos of police officers from around the convention center to social media, along with a message of his intent to shoot and kill the officers. A woman seeing the messages contacted police who responded immediately to the scene and managed to subdue Sterling without serious incident.
Friday evening, Jason David Frank made a brief press appearance to respond to what had happened and said:
I know you guys are going to hear some stuff on the internet, probably pretty much around the entire world. But I want to let you know, I’m okay. Everything is fine.
Further continuing and addressing the rule-changes implemented after the incident which banned all replica weapons and props:
Just remember, if you’re here at Phoenix Comic Con, if you want me to sign your dragon daggers and such, you have to leave them in the box this weekend. We have a no weapon policy. You can’t take weapons into Phoenix Comic Con at all. It’s part of your cosplay, but I want you to be troopers about it. And I want you guys to remember that you don’t need a prop gun, you don’t need a prop weapon or anything to make your costume cool. Just respect the rules and regulations of Phoenix Comic Con.
Below you can check out Sterling’s initial appearance (he doesn’t say much, and the judge deals with the reading of the initial charges against him, and the district attorney goes over the summary of his probable cause document. The judge then advises him to not say anything as it would be held against him later, and asks if he wants to make a statement and declines. She then orders a $1,000,000 cash-only bond amount (if he was able to post it, he would be able to be released but she orders him to have no weapons, not to return to the convention center, and not to have any contact with any of the individuals he’d threatened).
After the video you can read the police document outlining their claims against Sterling.
Below is the text of his booking description in full:
On may 25, 2017 at approximately 1211 hours, phoenix police received a call from the Hawthorne police department in California regarding an individual, later identified as mathew enrique navarro sterling, via his arizona drivers license.Details of the call stated a witness was receiving facebook messages from mathew stating he was threatening to shoot police officers, taking pictures of them and mathew had numerous weapons on his person including handguns, a shotgun, a knife, pepper spray and wearing body armor. Mathew was sending these messages as he sat on the second floor of 100 north 3rd street, the phoenix convention center, while he was attending the phoenix comicon event. Mathew was described as wearing black tactical pants, a red bandana with his face painted black with a shotgun bandolier across his chest.Mathew relayed to the witness he was on the second floor with loaded weapons and was not leaving until police arrived. He stated to the witness that he was going to be in a showdown with cops and he would kill them. Responding officers located mathew on the second floor reading a comicon brochure. Officers approached and immediately began to control mathews hands due to the numerous weapons they saw he had on his person. Mathew resisted arrest by tensing his arms to avoid being taken into custody. During the struggle to control mathew, he ripped off an officers phoenix police patch affixed to his uniform and pushed his full body weight against the bench he was sitting on so he could not be moved. Officers eventually overcame his strength and he was taken into custody at 1222 hours. Inspection of the firearms revealed they were all real and all fully loaded. Mathew was sitting on a twelve gauge shotgun, two 45 caliber handguns, one .454 caliber handgun, a combat knife, pepper spray and throwing stars. There are signs posted throughout the event that firearms are prohibited and there are numerous stations where attendees with real weapons or props have them secured with bright colored zip ties. Mathew avoided these stations and proceeds to the second floor.Mathew was transported to 620 west washington street to be interviewed. During the interview, mathew admitted to taking loaded firearms into the venue. Mathew believed that the law prohibiting bringing loaded weapons into the venue applied to other people, but not him. Mathew said if he was forced to kill police officers, he would to defend himself. Mathew stated he was the punisher, a popular comic book character that punishes people that do wrong. Mathew believes that there are police officers that have kind faces in uniform but they can be bad officers. Mathew saidhe would use violence against them if it meant he needed to protect his friends.Mathew was wearing body armor under his shirt. He stated he had this on to protect himself. Mathew explained that he calls bad police officers aphrodite officers and he can differentiate these bad officers from good ones. When asked about the officers he encountered today, mathew said he would shoot them if he deemed they were aphrodite officers. Mathew went on to post that things would get bloody and he would kill cops with his firearms. When asked about his array of weapons, mathew explained they were for self defense in case officers gave him trouble and that he would shoot to kill. Mathew said he would use his shotgun to hold them back until they were able to produce sufficient identification because aphrodite officers hide behind regular police patches.Facebook messages listed one victim by name who was scheduled to be at the comicon event. Mathew stated in his message and interview with detectives that he had stabbed the victim fifteen years prior and was at the event to finish the job. I asked mathew what he meant when he said finishing the job and he said he wanted to see the victim behind bars. Matthew set a calendar reminder in his phone to alert him tokill the victim at comicon on may 25th. The victim was scheduled at comicon all four days and mathew purchased a four day pass. Mathew stated he believed if the victim was deceased, the victims wife and child would be happy. Mathew was subsequently booked into jail for the listed charges.