Comicon Prop Weapons Banned

Cosplayers who spend a lot of time and money on their costumes were out of luck if they had prop weapons – or props that could be used as weapons – at Phoenix Comicon in Arizona May 26.  

Phoenix Comicon Security
AP Photo / Matt York
– Phoenix Comicon Security
A cosplayer hands over his plastic chains to security at Comicon at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona May 26 because a man showed up the day before with real loaded guns and had allegedly threatened a performer.

Event security banned prop weapons because of an incident the day before with a man who showed up wearing body armor and carrying real loaded guns, ammunition and a knife as part of a costume for Marvel’s The Punisher.

The man had allegedly threatened one of the Comicon performers and made online threats against police officers.

Police said Mathew Enrique Nava Sterling appeared to be mentally unstable as he told detectives he’s the vigilante comic book character and was planning to shoot bad police officers. As a precaution, police beefed up security at the event and banned prop weapons including guns, swords, sabers, even walking sticks.

Comicon attendees were frustrated about the ban and the longer wait to enter the building.

“Some people have invested thousands of dollars into their costumes that need weapons to complete the look,” cosplayer Kane Cheshier said. “If they can’t use the weapon, you’re just telling us we just wasted all this money for nothing – kind of makes you want to punch someone. It really makes you mad.”

Authorities said that after a struggle, Sterling was charged with attempted murder, 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.