Con News

Potential Attack Thwarted at Phoenix Comic-Con

Potential Attack Thwarted at Phoenix Comic-Con

A gunman outside of the Phoenix Comic-Con was arrested Thursday afternoon. The suspect target Phoenix police and Power Rangers star Jason David Frank. As a result, the convention banned prop weapons for the weekend.

Phoenix Comic-Con’s Tumultuous Beginning

The Phoenix Comic-Con is one of the fastest growing conventions outside of San Diego. Unfortunately, the 2017 convention started on a potentially tragic, and bizarre note. On Thursday, May 25th, 2017, Phoenix police arrested a man carrying several shotguns and pistols, knives, and throwing stars. The 29-year-old suspect, Matthew Sterling was stopped by police before he could use any of his weapons. However, the convention responded by banning all prop weapons for the weekend’s convention.

While understandable, the ban on prop weapons surely angered some con-goers. Certain costumes depend on weapons to be recognizable. For example, a bow and arrow-less Green Arrow may be mistaken for sexy Peter Pan. However, nobody is going to mistake a Jedi’s weapon for a real lightsaber. Most conventions inspect prop weapons and tag them as okay to enter the center.

On the other hand, the ban aims to prioritize the safety of the convention’s guests and attendees. It’s a tumultuous time in global political climate. Sadly, that means even the most celebratory pop culture gatherings must increase security measures. Fortunately, police avoided a serious incident at Phoenix Comic-Con. Additionally, the incident is isolated, so future conventions needn’t worry about this threat for now. However, this story took a bizarre turn as the investigation waned on.

The Story Unfolds

Over the course of Sterling’s police questioning, the suspect uttered bizarre statements. He informed the police that he is The Punisher. Yes, the vigilante hero from the pages of Marvel comics. In addition, he stated his intent to engage in a shootout with Phoenix police and assassinate one of the convention’s celebrity guests. That guest? Jason David Frank.

Jason David Frank is best known as The Green Ranger from Saban’s original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series. He consistently champions the show and puts in appearances at conventions. Police found a reminder on Sterling’s phone labeled “KILL JDF.” Also, they discovered a journal entry wherein the would be shooter claimed he stabbed Frank and wanted to “finish the job.” However, further investigation showed no prior connection between Frank and Sterling.

Jason David Frank Comiccon

Keeping Cons Celebratory

Cons are great. For a weekend, tens of thousands of fans descend upon a convention center to celebrate their passions. They also get up close and personal with the folks who bring endless joy into their lives. However, the actions of one person can change that dynamic forever. After the incident, Jason David Frank held a press conference and took to Facebook live to issue a statement about the situation. During the press conference, he urged fans to comply with con guidelines for cosplay and urged fans to keep up the “festival atmosphere” of the show.

On Facebook Live, the actor took a more personal tone. He thanked fans for their prayers and support during an intense time. It’s important that a recognizable face in con culture came forward and addressed the issue head on. Frank is a convention staple, and he loves interacting with his fans. The fact that something came close to preventing him from doing so shook him up. But his call to preserve the jovial nature of conventions rings true.


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About the author

MJ Smith

MJ Smith makes his home in California, and when not listening to Hamilton, podcasts and writes about pop culture on the internet. He loves board games, Swamp Thing, and The Wachowski's SPEED RACER.