Nerd Culture

Armed Man Arrested at Phoenix Comicon

The Phoenix Convention Center, site of Phoenix Comicon.
The Phoenix Convention Center, site of Phoenix Comicon. Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons
A person brought something a bit more threatening than a prop weapon into this year’s Phoenix Comicon.

The Phoenix Police Department arrested an armed man on Thursday afternoon at the Phoenix Convention Center during this first day of the popular geek event.

According to officials, 29-year-old Valley resident Mathew Sterling was armed to the teeth with three handguns, a shotgun, ammunition, knives, and body armor. He was apprehended after a struggle involving several officers and is currently in custody.

According to Sergeant Mercedes Fortune, Sterling was posting photos of Phoenix police officers at the convention center online. A female acquaintance noticed the pics, contacted the cops, and provided a description.

"This person saw some behavior that was suspicious, so she alerted law enforcement," Fortune says.
click to enlarge
The mugshot of Matthew Sterling.
Courtesy of MCSO

Phoenix P.D. cops quickly located Sterling on the second floor of the convention center. He's been charged with attempted murder, resisting arrest, multiple counts of aggravated assault, carrying a weapon in a prohibited place, and wearing body armor during the commission of a felony.

Police officials have stated that Sterling was allegedly intent on hurting or killing cops, as well as a Phoenix Comicon perform.

There's been no word on how Sterling was able to slip past security with the weapons.

Thursday's incident has been the only blight on what was a pretty calm first day of Phoenix Comicon.

While no programming or panels were disrupted due to the arrest, Phoenix P.D. and Comicon organizers have announced that certain costuming items and prop weapons will be banned from the event starting on Friday.

Increased security measures will be implemented, including additional screening checkpoints and an increased police presence.

Phoenix Comicon director Matt Solberg released a statement announcing the changes to this year's event and thanking police officials.

"We are extremely grateful to the Phoenix Police Department for their diligence in following security protocol and working quickly to apprehend the individual," Solberg stated. "We are working with the Phoenix Convention Center and the Phoenix Police Department, will be implementing enhanced screening to ensure the safety of all our attendees."

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout since its original publication with additional details and comments from Comicon organizers.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.