PALMER PARK, Md. — A Maryland man who called himself “a joker” and had an arsenal of semi-automatic rifles threatened to shoot up the business from which he was being fired and was wearing a T-shirt that read “Guns don’t kill people. I do,” when first confronted by officers, police said Friday.
The man, identified in a search warrant as Neil Prescott, told a supervisor at software and mailroom supplier Pitney Bowes that, “I’m a joker and I’m gonna load my guns and blow everybody up,” and that he wanted to see the supervisor’s “brain splatter on the floor,” according to a search warrant Friday.
The threats were made multiple times in separate phone calls this week, and investigators who searched the 28-year-old’s apartment Friday morning found several thousand rounds of ammunition and about two dozen firearms.
He was receiving a mental health evaluation at a hospital and charges were pending.
“We can’t measure what was prevented,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the threat was to be carried out or how seriously it was meant to be taken, but last week’s mass shooting at a Colorado theater during the latest Batman movie — coupled with the “Joker” reference — put police especially on edge and gave the comments extra urgency, officials said.
“In light of what happened a week ago in Aurora Colo., it’s important to know, (for) the community to know, that we take all threats seriously. And if you’re going to make a threat, we will take action,” Magaw said.
Though there’s no other indication of a link to the Colorado shooting, police believe the joker comments made by Prescott were a “clear reference” to the killings, according to the warrant.
Neighbor Wilbert Brinson, who lives in a building across from Prescott’s but did not know him, said he was alarmed by the alleged threats.
“It’s an awakening, you know, after hearing what happened in Colorado,” he said.
Police would not confirm the man’s identify Friday because charges are pending. He was receiving an emergency mental health evaluation at a hospital and was taken into custody Friday morning at his apartment in Crofton, near Annapolis, after a supervisor reported the threat. Police checked in Thursday at Prescott’s home, where he was wearing a T-shirt that said, “Guns don’t kill people. I do,” authorities said.
Prescott made the threat during a phone call on Monday, then made similar statements in a separate conversation about 15 minutes later, and said, “It’s kind of foolish of me to say this kind of things over government phone,” the warrant states.
It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
Pitney Bowes spokeswoman Carol Wallace said in a statement that Prescott was an employee of a subcontractor to the company and had not been on any Pitney Bowes property in more than four months.
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko and Brian Witte contributed to this report. Zongker reported from Washington.