Comicon security measures lead to long lines, heat emergencies

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Security is tight at the Phoenix Comicon after the arrest of a man at the event Thursday. (26 May 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5] Security is tight at the Phoenix Comicon after the arrest of a man at the event Thursday. (26 May 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5]
Mathew Sterling, 29, was arrested Thursday at the Phoenix Comicon event. (26 May 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5] Mathew Sterling, 29, was arrested Thursday at the Phoenix Comicon event. (26 May 2017) [Source: 3TV/CBS 5]

Long lines outside the Phoenix Comicon venue led to frustration in the crowd and heat-related emergencies for some.

Extra security measures were put into place for the first full day of the event Friday, slowing down the flow of visitors through the convention center entrances.

“I saw a gentleman who was wearing a full-body plush costume. I heard the woman he was with ask if someone has sugar and then he collapsed,” said visitor Jim Fleegle.  “Maybe about five minutes he was laying on the hot ground seizing.”

Fleegle said he also saw a woman collapse from heat stroke. Phoenix Fire said it responded to medically assist a woman in her 20s, but provided no additional details.

Fleegle believes the arrest of a heavily armed man at yesterday’s Comicon, and the following security scramble, are results of Comicon not hiring enough employees.

[Related: PD: Man armed with guns and knives arrested at Phoenix Comicon]

The Phoenix Convention Centers deputy director of operations, Kevin Mattingly, could be seen checking bags at one entrance Friday.  Mattingly said there are plenty of Comicon employees to put on a safe event.

“To watch the crowd and make sure the policies of looking for people with prop weapons, or what they think are prop weapons, are directed to a peace binding tent,” said Mattingly.

“We review all of that with Comicon and we don’t have any doubts that staffing was in any way a root cause of what happened yesterday,” said Mattingly. “He concealed those weapons and he went through the process, so that’s why you see this today.”

Mattingly was unable to immediately provide numbers of employees working at the event.

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