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Comic-Con gatherings give superhero and sci-fi fans the opportunity to dress as their favorite characters and celebrate comic book counterculture. And some of those costumed fans can be carrying impressively accurate portrayals of their characters' favored weapons, including swords and laser cannons.
But the weapons one fan carried to Phoenix Comicon yesterday got all too real. A 30-year-old man was arrested trying to enter the convention with three handguns, one shotgun, and a knife, all while clad in body armor. So how did cops know his firepower was real?
Online Threats, IRL Arrests
Phoenix police spokeswoman Sgt. Mercedes Fortune told the Arizona Republic the man was also carrying ammunition and an array of handheld weapons and had made threats against authorities on social media prior to the incident. Fortune said the man was taking pictures of police officers, including some patrolling Comicon, and posting them with threats on social media. A female acquaintance alerted law enforcement and police arrested him on site.
No matter how many times it happens, some criminals either still don't know their online threats can be illegal or they're trying to get caught. If a threat is directed at a specific person, with a specific threat of harm, from an easily identifiable source, and appears credible, it will likely be illegal even if it's made on social media.
Fake Guns, Real Consequences
Following the man's arrest, Phoenix Comicon organizers banned even ersatz weaponry from the event. The event's Facebook page advised convention goers:
Costume props will no longer be allowed on-site. All costume props should be left at home, in your car, or in your hotel room. This includes costume props for staff, crew, costuming groups, panelists, and participants in the masquerade ball. Any panels or activities impacted by this change will be updated on the website soon.
All costume props are no longer allowed, including foam and cardboard props, shields and sabers. Purchased props will be wrapped by the vendors and must remain so while they are on-site. We encourage you to take your purchases to your car or hotel as soon as possible after purchase
Sadly, one bad actor can spoil the entire comicon bunch.