National News

Man arrested at Phoenix Comicon pleads not guilty

Posted June 13

— A man who was arrested at Phoenix Comicon last month pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Tuesday.

Matthew Sterling, 29, allegedly came to the event with four loaded guns, ammunition and a knife.

He is charged with crimes that include attempted murder, aggravated assault on an officer, resisting arrest, misconduct with body armor and carrying a weapon into a prohibited place.

Police said he had threatened to harm a performer and posted online threats against police officers, convinced he was the alter-ego of a Marvel comic book character called the Punisher.

Sterling was posting threats against Phoenix police officers on social media, according to Sgt. Mercedes Fortune with the Phoenix Police Department. The threats indicated that he was armed and wanted to kill them. The postings included photos of officers working the event, she said.

According to court documents, Sterling was also sending Facebook messages listing a victim by name, Jason David Frank, an actor and popular mixed martial artist who is known for playing the original Green Power Ranger on the kids show, Power Rangers.

An associate of Sterling's alerted police at the Phoenix Convention Center about the posts, Fortune said.

Sterling had three handguns, a shotgun, a knife, ammunition and a "variety of other handheld weapons," police said. He reportedly was wearing body armor as well.

According to Sterling's booking paperwork, those other handheld weapons included throwing stars and pepper spray.

The armed suspect struggled with officers before he was taken into custody.

He was booked on 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.

Sterling was wearing dark clothing and stated to police that he was the 'Punisher', a popular comic book character that punishes people that do wrong.

No officers were hurt and police said it was an isolated incident.

Sterling is being held on a $1 million cash-only bond.


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