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'Joker' sent to mental hospital, had threatened shooting rampage

July 27, 2012|By Ian Duncan
  • Prince George's County Police handout photo shows a cache of guns taken from Neil Prescott who was allegedly planning a workplace shooting in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Prince George's County Police handout photo shows a cache of guns… (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA )

A Maryland man who called himself “a joker” and threatened to go on a shooting rampage at his office with an arsenal of weapons was committed to a hospital on mental health grounds, police said Friday.

Police said the suspect, identified in a police warrant as Neil Edwin Prescott, was wearing a T-shirt that read “Guns don’t kill people, I kill people” when he was initially interviewed by police this week.

Prince George’s County, Md., Police Chief Mark Magaw said at a news  conference that the suspect had made multiple threats to his colleagues by phone. In one call, according to Magaw, he said, “I’m a joker, I’m going to load my guns and blow everyone up.”

Anne Arundel County, Md., police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided the man’s apartment in Crofton, Md., around 3:20 a.m. Friday and found a cache of 25 guns, including semiautomatic rifles as well as pistols and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Asked by a reporter if the shooting plot was inspired by the mass killing in a Colorado movie theater last week, Magaw said that -- given the reference to the Joker, a Batman villain -- “it’s fairly obvious.”

In that attack, 12 people were killed and 58 were wounded during a showing of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."The suspect in that case, James Holmes, had reportedly referred to himself at one point as the Joker.

“In light of what happened a week ago in Aurora, Colo., it’s important for the community to know we take all threats seriously,” Magaw said, “and if you make a threat, we will take action.”

The investigation began earlier this week and involved officers from the Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County police departments as well as ATF agents.

Magaw said the man was in the process of being fired from his job at Pitney Bowes, a document and mail company, where he had worked for a number of years.

Magaw added that the suspect has not been interviewed since being taken into custody and is being treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center, but that federal and state charges are being considered.

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ian.duncan@latimes.com

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