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Posted at 02:21 PM ET, 07/27/2012

Maryland police may have thwarted shooting

Authorities have taken a man into custody who referred to himself as “a joker” and threatened to shoot people at his former workplace in Prince George’s County, investigators said Friday.

The investigators said that the man, identified in a warrant as Neil E. Prescott of Crofton, called Pitney Bowes this week and threatened to carry out a shooting there.

“I am a joker. I’m going to load my guns and blow everybody up,” the man said over the phone to a man at Pitney Bowes, according to a warrant. He later called back and acknowledged that it was not smart to be making such threats over the phone, investigators said.

Pitney Bowes called Prince George’s Police on Wednesday. The man lives in Crofton, and he was taken into custody there by Anne Arundel County police early Friday morning..

Police there found more than 20 rifles and handguns and 40 steel boxes of ammunition at his home, the investigators said.


The cache of weapons taken from the Anne Arundel home of the suspect. (Prince George’s Police photo)

When police first encountered Prescott, he wore a T shirt that said “Guns don’t kill people. I do.”

Prescott was taken to the Anne Arundel County Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation. Officials said they are weighing what charges, if any, they might file in the case.

Pitney Bowes said in a statement that the suspect arrested was an employee of a subcontractor to Pitney Bowes. He has not been on any Pitney Bowes property in more than four months.

“What we believe was significant threat has been averted,” Prince George’s Police Chief Mark McGaw said.

Authorities wrote in an affidavit that they believed that Prescott was referencing the movie theater shootings in Colorado when he called himself a joker.

In Aurora, Colo., 12 people were killed and 50 others wounded during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

Police were first tipped to the danger on Wednesday this week, when a supervisor at Pitney Bowes called to report an employee had made menacing and threatening comments, said Prince George’s County Deputy Police Chief Hector Velez. The supervisor said he was in the process of terminating the employee, and in two phone calls, the employee said he was “a joker” and intended to shoot up Pitney Bowes, Velez said.

Velez said Prince George’s County police immediately launched an investigation to determine the seriousness of the threats.

“When we initially received the call, obviously given the events that occurred in Colorado, the fact that he made mention of being the joker, we took it seriously,” Velez said.

Velez said given the man’s threats in two phone calls, T-shirt and weaponry, the danger seemd real. He said police and prosecutors are discussing what charges to pursue.

“We’ll never know whether this is something he was going to do, but we certainly believe he was in that mind frame,” Velez said.

Anne Arundel County police officials said Prescott was calm and cooperative when he was arrested. Police evacuated some nearby apartments when they searched Prescott’s home.

Police said they do not yet know where or when Prescott bought the weapons. They have not yet interviewed him.

He has not yet been charged.

Staff writers Michael E. Ruane, Mihir Zaveri and Ovetta Wiggins and researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

By  |  02:21 PM ET, 07/27/2012

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