Md. man who threatened mass shooting won’t face charges while hospitalized


Authorities say a search of Neil E. Prescott’s home turned up an arsenal of weapons. (Kris Connor/GETTY IMAGES)
July 28, 2012

The Crofton man who threatened mass violence against the Prince George’s County business from which he was being fired will not be charged until he is released from a Maryland hospital, authorities said Saturday.

Police took Neil E. Prescott into custody early Friday but did not charge him with a crime. After undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, he was admitted to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he could receive mental-health care for up to a week, said John Erzen, a spokesman for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Erzen said that prosecutors and police will not charge Prescott until he is released from the hospital.

“Whatever the charges are going to be, and whichever agency is going to take the lead in charging, that won’t all come to fruition until it’s time for him to be released from the hospital,” Erzen said.

Police had taken Prescott, 28, into custody Friday morning after finding more than 20 rifles, shotguns and pistols — along with 40 steel boxes containing eight different types of ammunition — in his apartment. He was detained without incident.

Earlier in the week, Prescott had threatened mass murder at the Capitol Heights branch of Pitney Bowes after a supervisor called to fire him, according to authorities and court documents.

Prescott was a subcontractor at the business, authorities said.

During the conversation with his supervisor, according to authorities and court documents, Prescott said: “I am a joker. I’m gonna load my guns and blow everybody up.”

He also said he would like to see his boss’s brains splattered on the sidewalk, according to court documents.

Police took the threat seriously. Authorities wrote in an affidavit for a search warrant that they believed Prescott was referencing the movie-theater shootings in Colorado when he called himself a “Joker” — a character from the Batman movies and comic books.

James Holmes, the alleged Aurora, Colo., gunman, is charged with opening fire in a movie theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Twelve people were killed and 58 were wounded in that rampage.

Police and prosecutors have said they are considering a number of possible state and federal charges against Prescott — even bringing in the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to evaluate the legality of his extensive weaponry, although at least 13 guns seemed to be legally registered to him.

Police said Friday that taking him into custody averted a possibly catastrophic threat to his co-workers and neighbors.

In an interview Saturday with the Associated Press, a friend of Prescott’s called him “a gentle giant” who was “no stranger to sarcasm regardless of political correctness.”

The alleged threats, the friend said, may not have been intended to be taken seriously.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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