Neil Prescott, Md. man accused of shooting plot and calling himself "a joker," charged with misdemeanor, prosecutors say
(CBS/AP) UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - Neil Prescott is facing charges of misdemeanor telephone misuse after allegedly referring to himself as "a joker" and threatening to shoot up his workplace just one week after Colorado's mass shooting at a Batman movie premiere, prosecutors said Wednesday.
If convicted, 28-year-old Prescott could face up to three years in prison and a $500 fine.
Prescott was taken for emergency psychiatric evaluation last Friday after the threats were reported to the police. Police said they found large quantities of ammunition and about two dozen weapons, including semi-automatic rifles and pistols, in his Crofton apartment.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said that while the misdemeanor charge was "insufficient" punishment, Maryland law does not make it a felony to communicate general threats over the telephone. She said her office would be lobbying for a law change.
"I believe that when people like Mr. Prescott threaten violence, especially in this day and age with all that we have going on right now, he ought to be facing felony charges - not just misdemeanor charges," Alsobrooks said.
Authorities determined the guns were legally owned, but Prescott will not be able to recover the weapons while the case is pending. He also won't be eligible to get the guns back if he's convicted or if he's hospitalized for mental health treatment for more than 30 days, Alsobrooks said.
Prescott was either fired or in the process of being fired from his job when he allegedly told an employee, "I'm a joker and I'm gonna load my guns and blow everybody up."
The "joker" comment prompted particular concern because of a mass shooting a week earlier at a Colorado movie theater during a screening of the latest Batman movie. The character Joker is a notorious villain in the Batman series.
Police also said Prescott was wearing a T-shirt that said "Guns don't kill people. I do" when officers made an initial visit to his apartment, at which point Prescott appeared "unstable," Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said.
Although officers haven't interviewed Prescott in the hospital yet, police believe the threats needed to be taken seriously due to the "joker" reference and the weapons' caches. Prescott will be served with the charges after he's discharged from the hospital.
"He's going to have a lot to answer to when he comes out of the hospital," Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said.
Prescott was working for a subcontractor of software and mailroom supplier Pitney Bowes at a branch in Prince George's County, just outside Washington. A company spokeswoman said he hasn't been on company property for several months.
At 6 feet, 7 inches, friends described Prescott as a "gentle giant" who has a sarcastic and biting sense of humor. They said he was interested in computers and electronics, collected guns as a hobby and liked to shoot at a target range.
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