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Man calling himself ‘a joker’ threatened shooting

/ 10:09 AM July 28, 2012

This undated handout photo provided by the Prince George’s, Md. County Police shows weapons found in the possession of a suspect who they say was plotting a shooting in his workplace. Police in Maryland say a man who called himself “a joker” and threatened to shoot up his workplace was in the process of being fired. Police say the 28-year-old man was taken into custody Friday morning. Investigators said he was wearing a T-shirt that said “Guns don’t kill people. I do.” He was taken into custody for an emergency mental health evaluation and charges are pending. (AP Photo/Prince George’s County Police)

PALMER PARK, Maryland — Calling himself “a joker,” a Maryland man with an arsenal of guns threatened to shoot up a business he was being fired from, and was wearing a T-shirt that said “Guns don’t kill people. I do” when police confronted him, authorities said Friday.

The 28-year-old man, identified in a search warrant as Neil E. Prescott, told a supervisor at software and mailroom supplier Pitney Bowes that he wanted to see his boss’ “brain splatter all over the sidewalk,” according to a search warrant.

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“I’m a joker and I’m gonna load my guns and blow everybody up,” Prescott said, according to the warrant.

The threats were made repeatedly in two separate phone calls this week, and investigators who searched Prescott’s apartment Friday morning found several thousand rounds of ammunition and about two dozen semi-automatic rifles and pistols. The weapons so far appear to have been purchased legally but are still being examined, said Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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Prescott was taken into custody at his apartment Friday and was receiving a psychiatric evaluation at a hospital. He was not expected to be charged Friday, the Prince George’s County police department said on Twitter.

“We can’t measure what was prevented here, but what was going on over the last 36 hours was a significant incident in the county. And we think a violent episode was avoided,” said county police Chief Mark Magaw.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the threat was to be carried out or how seriously it was, but last week’s mass shooting at a Colorado theater that killed 12 people and wounded 38 during the latest Batman movie — coupled with the “Joker” reference — put police on edge and gave the comments extra urgency, officials said.

Though there’s no other indication of a link to the Colorado shooting, police believe the joker comments were a “clear reference” to the killings, the warrant said. The man accused in those shootings, James Holmes, had his hair dyed reddish-orange, and called himself the Joker, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said.

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TAGS: Crime, Joker, Maryland, Niel E. Prescott, Police, Shooting
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