Following increased security & the complete ban on prop weapons at #PhoenixComicon, guests have been subjected to very long lines & wait times (“hours”) in the Arizona heat with some passing out. Frustration due to both the long wait times and people not being allowed to have their props inside the convention is also high.
The gunman arrested at #PhoenixComicon on Thursday has been identified as 31-year old Matthew Sterling, who was charged with attempted murder, resisting arrest, multiple counts of aggravated assault, carrying a weapon in a prohibited place, and wearing body armor during the commission of a felony. A judge set his bond at $1-million on Friday.
Police said that Sterling was armed with a shotgun & three handguns, all of which were fully loaded. He was also carrying a combat knife, pepper spray and throwing stars. Police also said he was wearing body armor at the time of arrest.
According to the probable cause statement, Sterling (who was also wearing black tactical pants, a red bandanna, black face paint, and a shotgun bandolier) had entered the Phoenix Convention Center where he managed to avoid both the venue’s security and one of of the peace-bonding stations for inspecting prop weapons. He then proceeded to the second floor.
Signs posted throughout the Phoenix Convention Center prohibit weapons at the event. In court documents, he told police that he believed the signs and laws prohibiting weapons at the venue did not apply to him.
Court documents also reveal that Sterling saw himself as real-life version of Marvel comic book vigilante Punisher & that he was planning to kill well-known #PowerRangers actor Jason David Frank. A calendar reminder that was found on Sterling’s cellphone for May 25th stated “Kill JDF”. He also told police that he would kill “bad police officers” if he needed to protect himself or his friends.
During the arraignment hearing, prosecutor Ed Leiter (of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office) said in reference to Sterling, “He exhibited a dramatic threat to the community beyond police officers, beyond Jason David Frank.” Leiter also said, “A number of other people were referenced as possible targets or people he wanted to kill.”
The full text of the probable cause statement (with added paragraph breaks, spelling corrections & sentence case for readability) is listed below:
On may 25, 2017 at approximately 1211 hours, Phoenix police received a call from the Hawthorne Police Department in California regarding an individual, later identified as Matthew Enrique Navarro Sterling, via his Arizona drivers license. Details of the call stated a witness was receiving Facebook messages from Matthew stating he was threatening to shoot police officers, taking pictures of them and Matthew had numerous weapons on his person including handguns, a shotgun, a knife, pepper spray and wearing body armor.
Matthew was sending these messages as he sat on the second floor of 100 north 3rd street, the Phoenix Convention Center, while he was attending the Phoenix Comicon event. Matthew was described as wearing black tactical pants, a red bandana with his face painted black with a shotgun bandolier across his chest. Matthew relayed to the witness he was on the second floor with loaded weapons and was not leaving until police arrived. He stated to the witness that he was going to be in a showdown with cops and he would kill them.
Responding officers located Matthew on the second floor reading a comicon brochure. Officers approached and immediately began to control Matthew’s hands due to the numerous weapons they saw he had on his person. Matthew resisted arrest by tensing his arms to avoid being taken into custody. During the struggle to control Matthew, he ripped off an officers Phoenix police patch affixed to his uniform and pushed his full body weight against the bench he was sitting on so he could not be moved. Officers eventually overcame his strength and he was taken into custody at 1222 hours.
Inspection of the firearms revealed they were all real and all fully loaded. Mathew was sitting on a twelve gauge shotgun, two 45 caliber handguns, one .454 caliber handgun, a combat knife, pepper spray and throwing stars. There are signs posted throughout the event that firearms are prohibited and there are numerous stations where attendees with real weapons or props have them secured with bright colored zip ties. Matthew avoided these stations and proceeds to the second floor.
Matthew was transported to 620 West Washington Street to be interviewed. During the interview, Matthew admitted to taking loaded firearms into the venue. Matthew believed that the law prohibiting bringing loaded weapons into the venue applied to other people, but not him. Matthew said if he was forced to kill police officers, he would to defend himself. Matthew stated he was the Punisher, a popular comic book character that punishes people that do wrong. Matthew believes that there are police officers that have kind faces in uniform but they can be bad officers. Matthew said he would use violence against them if it meant he needed to protect his friends.
Matthew was wearing body armor under his shirt. He stated he had this on to protect himself. Matthew explained that he calls bad police officers “Aphrodite officers” and he can differentiate these bad officers from good ones. When asked about the officers he encountered today, Matthew said he would shoot them if he deemed they were Aphrodite officers. Matthew went on to post that things would get bloody and he would kill cops with his firearms.
When asked about his array of weapons, Matthew explained they were for self defense in case officers gave him trouble and that he would shoot to kill. Matthew said he would use his shotgun to hold them back until they were able to produce sufficient identification because Aphrodite officers hide behind regular police patches.
Facebook messages listed one victim by name who was scheduled to be at the comicon event. Matthew stated in his message and interview with detectives that he had stabbed the victim fifteen years prior and was at the event to finish the job. I asked Matthew what he meant when he said finishing the job and he said he wanted to see the victim behind bars.
Matthew set a calendar reminder in his phone to alert him tc kill the victim at comicon on may 25th. The victim was scheduled at comicon all four days and mathew purchased a four day pass. Matthew stated he believed if the victim was deceased, the victims wife and child would be happy. Matthew was sub-sequently booked into jail for the listed charges.
News coverage of the arrest of a heavily armed 30-year old man at #PhoenixComicon resulting in the banning of all #PropWeapons beginning tomorrow. The man was carrying 3 handguns, a shotgun, ammunition & knives. He was also wearing body armor and was dressed in all black. A tip alerted police to the man’s intentions that likely averted a very serious situation.
If you know anyone carrying firearms to conventions or other #costuming or #cosplay events, please do not hesitate to contact local authorities.
All prop weapons have been banned at #PhoenixComicon after a man carrying real firearms & ammunition was arrested by police at the Phoenix Convention Center.
The 30-year old man was wearing body armor, was carrying three handguns & one shotgun, along with ammunition, a knife and a variety of handheld weapons. The man intended to harm Phoenix police & had been taking pictures of officers, including those patrolling Phoenix Comicon, then posting them on social media. A woman who knows the man alerted police to his activities.
A spokeswoman for Phoenix Comicon said this regarding prop weapons: “Please leave them (prop weapons) at home or in your vehicles, since they will not be allowed into the facility.”
Adam Savage is a huge #StarWars fan & loves to #cosplay as iconic character #Chewbacca. To capture the spirit of #TheEmpireStrikesBack, Adam created a C-3PO backpack similar to what Chewbacca wore before he was able to fully reassemble C-3PO, who had been taken apart on the cloud city of Bespin.
In this YouTube video, Adam Savage shows how he put together the C-3PO backpack, complete with animatronics. The video is over 39 minutes long:
Next, here’s the video that Adam Savage shared a month earlier showing him donning the Chewbacca costume with the C-3PO backpack and wearing it incognito at Silicon Valley Comic Con:
2 months before the previous video, Adam Savage had also upgraded his Chewbacca costume bandolier, which he shared on YouTube in February:
Adam Savage demonstrated what it’s like to put on & wear a spacesuit #costume from the #AlienCovenant movie! Created by designers Janty Yates and Michael Mooney, much of the costume was 3D-printed and utilizes bearings to create seamless turning of the various armor components. It’s an amazing costume!
For most, #costuming & #cosplay is a hobby. As such, should #crowdfunding be used to support the activity? Over the past few years, a number of #costumers & #cosplayers have resorted to the practice of #crowdfunding to support their hobby, often citing that the intent is to attend fundraising events in #costume to raise money for charity. In other words, they want charity from others to raise money for charity.
Now, if you reside in the United States and periodically donate money to charities that are registers non-profit organizations, those donations are tax-deductible. However, money given to individuals in pursuit of a hobby is not. That is simply a cash gift being made to an individual who may or may not use it for the purpose cited in the crowdfunding advert they wrote to obtain the monetary gifts.
Crowdfunding is a wonderful tool. When someone is trying to start a business or is in financial trouble and is desperately seeking money to make ends meet because of an unexpected costly life event (such as a medical problem, uninsured property damage, etc.), then crowdfunding is an excellent way for such individuals to start the business or to potentially stay financially afloat until they get back on their feet.
However, is the pursuit of a personal hobby (such as costuming & cosplay) similarly worthy of asking others to fund it through the use of crowdfunding? In our personal opinion, no it is not.
“Cosplayers, it is not the responsibilities of your fans to pay for your next costume, to send you on a trip or to a con. That is called personal financial responsibility. And before the arguments begin let me tell you that this is all coming from someone who sees so much behind the scenes garbage that fans and contributors don’t see. What you don’t see is that many cosplayers that do this spend their money frivolously on unnecessary wants, meals out and events with friends; say they are broke but then conveniently are able to attend a convention for fun and a slew of other lies that make me so ashamed at what this community is becoming.”
We agree completely with the substance of Ani-Mia’s Facebook page post and want to focus on one item in particular: personal financial responsibility. What is personal financial responsibility? According to Investopedia,
“What does it mean to be financially responsible? It’s a complex question with a complex answer, but at its core is a simple truth: to be financially responsible, you need to live within your means. And to live within your means, you must spend less than you make!”
When a costumer or cosplayer sets up a personal crowdfunding campaign to support their hobby, here’s what that is actually saying: that the costumer or cosplayer is NOT living within their means.
Let’s compare crowdfunding for an individual with donating money to a registered non-profit.
In the United States, registered non-profit organizations are governed by federal law called 501(c)(3). At the core of any organization that is registered under 501(c)(3), there are strict regulations that must be met at all times:
“501(c)(3) organizations are highly regulated entities. Strict rules apply to both the activities and the governance of these organizations. No part of the activities or the net earnings can unfairly benefit any director, officer, or any private individual, and no officer or private individual can share in the distribution of any of the corporate assets in the event the organization shuts down.”
And from the IRS’s own website is the following:
“The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”
(In the above quote, the word “inure” in a legal sense means “benefit, advantage to an individual”.)
Thus, when a costumer or cosplayer sets up a crowdfunding site to get monetary gifts from people to support their costuming & cosplaying activities, it is diametrically opposed to how a 501(c)(3) must operate, especially when the excuse that the costumer or cosplayer makes in the crowdfunding request is to enable them to spend time in costume as a way to help an actual 501(c)(3) to raise money for its charitable cause.
Let’s make one more comparison between giving money to a costumer or cosplayer to support their hobby with giving money to a registered 501(c)(3) charity. How can a 501(c)(3) spend the money it collects from donations? This is answered by the law that governs how a 501(c)(3) can operate:
“To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3)…”
And what are those exempt purposes? The law clearly defines them:
“The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.”
By comparison, when a costumer or cosplayer starts a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to support their hobby, what obligates the costumer or cosplayer to spend any money raised solely on the hobby? Nothing. Let’s repeat that: with the exception of securities, there are no laws that require someone who initiates a crowdfunding campaign to use the money raised for the purpose specified in the crowdfunding campaign.
But how about any rules that crowdfunding websites might have? Let’s examine what is written on the popular GoFundMe website regarding whether it’s safe to donate to someone:
“With hundreds of thousands of campaigns, it’s not feasible for GoFundMe to investigate the claims stated by each Campaign Organizer. Rather, we provide visitors with the tools to make an informed decision as to who they choose to support. While GoFundMe and its payment partners do provide a number of safeguards to deter fraud, we must insist that visitors follow the advice stated on each and every campaign. ‘Only donate to people you personally know & trust.'”
In other words, any money you give on a crowdfunding website is at your own risk.
While you can be reasonably sure that at least part of the money you donate to a legitimate charity will be spent on helping who the charity claims to help, there is absolutely no guarantee whatsoever that money given to a cosplayer or costumer via a personal crowdfunding campaign will be used for the intended purpose.
In our humble opinion, if you really want to help others, donating money to an actual charity is a much better idea than giving monetary gifts to a costumer or cosplayer. If you give money to a costumer or cosplayer who has started a personal crowdfunding campaign to benefit themselves, you may be making yourself to be an enabler. What’s an enabler?
An enabler is “one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior…by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior.”
In other words, by sending money to a costumer or cosplayer who has started a personal crowdfunding campaign, you may be enabling them to continue self-destructive behavior that encourages them to live in a financially irresponsible manner.
Finally, if you are a costumer or cosplayer considering a personal crowdfunding campaign to support your hobby, in our humble opinion, don’t. Instead, find ways to lower your own personal spending & expenses (especially frivolous ones) before asking others for financial support. If you start a personal crowdfunding campaign to pay for your costuming & cosplay hobby, you may be telling others that you are living in a financially irresponsible manner. Is that the message that you want to send? Just food for thought.