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Maryland man who called himself 'joker' charged

Wednesday - 8/1/2012, 5:51pm  ET

This image provided by by Mike Cochran shows Neil E. Prescott in an undated photo. Cochran, a friend of Prescott, says the Maryland man accused of threatening to shoot up his workplace is a ''gentle giant'' who collected weapons and had expressed concerns about break-ins near his apartment complex. Cochran tells The Associated Press on Saturday, July 28, 2012, that he thinks Prescott did not intend for his comments to be taken seriously. Cochran says Prescott was known for having a sarcastic sense of humor. (AP Photo/Mike Cochran)
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Associated Press

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - A man accused of referring to himself as "a joker" and threatening to shoot up his workplace has been charged with misdemeanor telephone misuse, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Neal E. Prescott, 28, of Crofton, was taken into custody last Friday after police said they found ammunition and a cache of about two dozen weapons, including semi-automatic rifles and pistols, in his apartment.

He has been undergoing an emergency psychiatric evaluation at a hospital since then. The charge is punishable by up to three years in prison and Prescott would lose the right to get his guns back if convicted, Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.

The "joker" comment prompted concern because of a mass shooting a week earlier at a Colorado movie theater screening the latest Batman movie.

Authorities have said Prescott had either been fired or was in the process of being fired from his job when he allegedly said last Monday: "I'm a joker and I'm gonna load my guns and blow everybody up." Police also said Prescott was wearing a T-shirt that said "Guns don't kill people. I do" when officers made an initial visit to his apartment. Police initially said the comment was made to a supervisor, but the state's attorney said it was to a coworker.

Alsobrooks said the misdemeanor was "insufficient" to deal with the alleged threat and that she would have preferred to charge Prescott with a felony. But she said there was no statute in Maryland making it a felony to make a generalized threat over the telephone.

Prescott had been working for a subcontractor of software and mailroom supplier Pitney Bowes at a branch in Prince George's County, just outside Washington.

After he was taken into custody, friends described Prescott as a "gentle giant" _ court records list him as 6 feet, 7 inches _ who was interested in computers, electronics and who collected guns as a hobby and liked to shoot at a target range.

Phone messages left with his parents have not been returned. It wasn't immediately clear whether Prescott has a lawyer. Online Maryland court records list his only past offense as a speeding ticket in 2007.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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