Phoenix Comic Fest is taking safety very seriously with Jason David Frank this year.
Frank, who is known for being the Green Power Ranger, appeared at Phoenix Comic Fest this weekend and at his Q and A at the convention, fans noticed the presence of a uniformed Phoenix police officer just offstage during the panel. It was a grim reminder that last year during the event -- which was then known as Phoenix Comicon -- a man named Matthew Sterling was arrested having brought three handguns, a shotgun, knives, and various ammunition into the event with what court documents say was intention to kill Frank.
According to the police report from last year's incident, Sterling "believes that there are police officers that have kind faces in uniform, but they can be bad officers" and he "would use violence against them if it meant he needed to protect his friends." Sterling also told police he was the Punisher, but the report also stated that Sterling intended to kill Frank, citing that Sterling told police he had stabbed Frank 15 years previously at an event and wanted to "finish the job". Maricopa County prosecutor later said that Sterling had set a calendar reminder in his phone to "kill JDF comicon" for May 25, 2017 -- the first day of last year's event.
Sterling, who was charged with attempted first-degree murder and four counts of attempted aggravated assault among other crimes pled not guilty in June of last year. Sterling's attorney has since asked that his client's mental capacity be evaluated before going forward. The court has set a deadline of May 31 for the mental-competency evaluation.
Fortunately, no one was hurt last year, though the incident did result in event organizers stepping up security as evidenced by the presence of police at Frank's panel though it hasn't quite gone as smoothly as hoped. Last night's events were canceled or postponed following a fire alarm going off. In spite of the challenges, however, Frank told AZ Family that he isn't letting last year's incident stop him.
"You can't go around living in fear, because we can't let them control us," Frank said. "I refuse to let him control my emotions."