According to court documents, the 31-year-old Mesa resident told Phoenix Police detectives that he was a real-life version of famed Marvel Comics vigilante The Punisher. He also stated that he would kill “bad police officers” if need be to protect himself or his friends.
Both revelations were included in court documents, specifically a lengthy probable cause statement written by detectives who interviewed Sterling after his arrest. The statement also detailed how he slipped past security and was apprehended by police.
New Times has also learned that Sterling allegedly wanted to kill Mighty Morphin Power Rangers actor Jason David Frank (a special guest at this year’s Phoenix Comicon) and claimed he had a vendetta against the star.
Phoenix P.D. arrested Sterling at the Phoenix Convention Center. He was in possession of three handguns, a shotgun, a combat knife, pepper spray, and throwing stars.
According to the probable cause statement, Sterling (who was wearing black tactical pants, a red bandanna, black face paint, and a shotgun bandolier) entered the convention center and avoided the venue’s security, as well as one of of the peace-bonding stations for inspecting prop weapons. He then proceeded to the second floor.
Sterling was reportedly in contact with a female acquaintance from Hawthorne, California, via text message and Facebook.
After learning of Sterling’s alleged intent to have a “showdown” with cops and seeing that Sterling had posted on Facebook photos of officers at Comicon, she alerted law enforcement of the situation.
Police located Sterling sitting on a bench while reading Comicon’s programming guide. A struggle ensued as cops “immediately began to control [his] hands due to the numerous weapons they saw he had on his person.”
Sterling reportedly resisted, tore off one officer’s Phoenix P.D. patch, and “pushed his full body weight against the bench he was sitting on so he could not be moved.”
A number of officers eventually subdued Sterling, who was taken to police headquarters to be interviewed by detectives.
According to prosecutor Ed Leiter of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, who was present at Sterling's initial court appearance on Friday, the 31-year-old suspect allegedly fessed up about his plans.
Sterling offered “numerous fantastical stories” to detectives, Leiter says, including tales of “bad police officers” and an alleged history with Frank.
Sterling allegedly told detectives that he believes there are certain cops — he calls them “Aphrodite officers” — who have “kind faces in uniform” but are ultimately bad. Apparently, he also would’ve shot the cops that arrested him if he determined they were “Aphrodite officers.”
In regards to Frank, Leiter stated at Sperling's court hearing that the suspect untended to attack and potentially kill the actor. The prosecuter also noted that Sterling’s phone had a reminder set for Thursday to “Kill JDF” at Comicon.
According to Leiter, Sterling reportedly told detectives that he stabbed the actor 15 years prior and was at Phoenix Comicon to “finish the job.”
"He exhibited a dramatic threat to the community beyond police officers, beyond Jason David Frank," Leiter stated. "A number of other people were referenced as possible targets or people he wanted to kill."