Phoenix police credit teamwork with takedown of armed suspect at Comicon

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Four Phoenix police supervisors credit homework and trust for their takedown of a heavily armed suspect at Phoenix Comicon. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Four Phoenix police supervisors credit homework and trust for their takedown of a heavily armed suspect at Phoenix Comicon. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The suspect had three handguns, a shotgun, a knife, ammunition and a "variety of other handheld weapons," police said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The suspect had three handguns, a shotgun, a knife, ammunition and a "variety of other handheld weapons," police said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Mathew Sterling, 29. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Mathew Sterling, 29. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Four Phoenix police supervisors credit teamwork and trust for their takedown of a heavily armed suspect at Phoenix Comicon in May. 

Lt. Mark Schweikert, Lt. Ben Moore, Sgt. Steve McClellan and Sergeant-in-Training Bob Kaschl have worked the Phoenix Comicon event together for the past seven years. Their camaraderie and knowledge of how each other works, they believe, was key in bringing what could have been a tragic situation to a peaceful resolution.

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

“We acted the proper way as a team should, with communication and with knowledge, and we were able to stop a suspect before he was able to act,” said Kaschl.

The officers were working the event May 25, the first day of Comicon, when they were alerted that a man dressed as the character “The Punisher” had been posting threats on social media that he was at the Phoenix Convention Center and wanted to kill police and others. 

An associate who lives in California alerted police there about the posts. California authorities called Phoenix police.

“They gave a description of the suspect and Mark being the astute gentleman that he is says, ‘Hey, I think I saw that guy,’” said McClellan.

[RELATED: Phoenix Comicon prop weapons banned after armed man arrested]

Schweikert admits to being a comic book fanatic which he says helped him remember seeing the suspect dressed as described on the second floor of the Phoenix Convention Center.

“I looked at his costume and I mean, large guy. I didn't see anything that stood out to me as a real weapon at that time. One thing I noticed was he had a bandolier of shotgun shells on him and I didn't see a shotgun so I believed they were replicas,” said Schweikert.

So, when the dispatcher radioed the officers about the threat, Schweikert knew where to find him.

[RELATED: Actor, officers targeted by Phoenix Comicon armed suspect, police say]

“It was a packed hallway. We didn't have a lot of time to think. You have to come up with a plan quickly. There were a lot of dynamics that were different because of how packed it was with people staging to get in,” said Moore. He went on to say, “You don't have a lot of options. So, we had to act quickly. And thank goodness he was distracted in the moment. We were able to get in quick and take him down without him having any pre-planning on his own.”

The men said they moved quickly and methodically and tried to keep the situation low key as they moved in, gained control of the suspect, took him down to the ground, handcuffed him and secured four guns, a knife and throwing stars.

The suspect the officers arrested is Mathew Sterling, 29. He currently faces a list of felony charges.

“There wasn't a lot of talking time but what was really awesome to see is because we've worked together for so long we didn’t have to have talking time and everyone jumped in with their job and we were able to gain control of his hands and arms and take him to the ground and it was just a blessing. We're very grateful for how it ended. Very grateful,” said Moore.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said she believes the four supervisors are hometown heroes.

“Without thinking twice, second guessing, they found this individual and took him into custody with some resistance but without incident. And so, when we talk about how amazing this police department is, that's a picture of how amazing we are,” said Williams

The officers do not consider themselves heroes. They said they were just doing their jobs.

“What we did that day doesn't compare to the work that's being done out there every day, every shift,” said Schweikert. 

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