Misdemeanor Charge in “Joker” Threat Case - NBC4 Washington

Misdemeanor Charge in “Joker” Threat Case



    A man who police say described himself as the "Joker" and threatened to shoot up his office is facing a misdemeanor misuse of phone charge. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012)

    A Maryland man accused of threatening a workplace attack was charged with misdemeanor misuse of a telephone.

    Neil Prescott, 28, of Crofton, is not facing any threat charges for saying “I’m gonna load my guns and blow everybody up,” as Maryland does not have a felony threat law, News4’s Pat Collins reported. Nor is he facing gun charges for several guns found, which he owned legally.

    Prescott continues to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He was taken into custody last week after threats were reported to police.

    According to a search warrant executed at his home Thursday night, Prescott made the threat toward his employer during a phone call earlier in the week when a supervisor contacted him about a work-related matter, then made similar statements in a separate conversation about 15 minutes later, and acknowledged, “It's kind of foolish of me to say this kind of things over government phone.” Prescott's employer -- a subcontractor for Pitney Bowes -- was ready to fire him, law enforcement sources told News4. Upset about the prospect of losing his job, Prescott said that he wanted to see the supervisor's "brain splatter all over the sidewalk," according to the search warrant. He also said something to the effect of, "You don't know who the real Joker is; I am the real Joker," law enforcement sources told News4.

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    It’s not clear if or when the threat was to be carried out, but it followed closely after the mass shooting at a premiere of the new Batman movie at a Colorado movie theater in which the suspect reportedly called himself the Joker when he was arrested. Police believe Prescott’s “Joker” comments referenced those killings.

    Prescott wore a shirt saying “Guns don’t kill people, I do” when police contacted him last week. Investigators found ammunition and about two dozen weapons, including semi-automatic rifles and pistols, in his apartment, police said. Prescott owned 13 guns according to a police database.

    "It's hard to measure what you prevented but all the elements were here that we believe that a tragedy was averted in this case," Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said.

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    The misdemeanor telephone misuse charge is punishable by up to three years in prison, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said. A conviction could also prevent Prescott from ever legally owning a gun again, Collins reported. His psychiatric evaluation could also disqualify him from legally owning a gun.

    "We're not walking away from this individual by any means," Magaw said.

    Alsobrooks said she wanted to do more.

    "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," she said.