Police: Crofton man planned mass shooting, called himself 'Joker'

A Crofton man repeatedly threatened to "blow everybody up" at his former workplace and declared himself a "joker," according to Prince George's County police — in what authorities believe is a reference to last week's mass murder during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo.

Neil Edwin Prescott, 28, was taken into custody early Friday morning and transferred to Anne Arundel Medical Center for an emergency psychiatric evaluation, police said. He has not been charged with a crime.

Officers discovered 15 firearms and several thousand rounds of ammunition at his apartment on the 1600 block of Parkridge Circle during a search Friday. At an earlier visit, police said he had been wearing a T-shirt that said "Guns don't kill people, I do."

According to an application for a search warrant Prescott called a colleague, who worked with him at mail services supplier Pitney Bowes on the 9100 block of East Hampton Blvd., on Monday and repeatedly said "I am a joker, I'm gonna load my guns." He also said he wanted to "see the supervisor's brain splatter all over the sidewalk," court records show. The colleague, who knew of Prescott's gun collection, alerted police.

Officers tied Prescott's comments to the Aurora shooting, during which 12 people were killed and 58 others wounded by a man alleged to have dyed his hair red and nicknamed himself a Joker, like the Batman nemesis. The connection heightened their concern, Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said during a press conference Friday afternoon.

"In light of what's recently happened, it's fairly obvious and that's how we took it," he said.

When police went to Prescott's home Thursday, he told them — through a closed door — that he had a gun. Police said they instructed him to drop his weapon and come out, which he did, wearing the gun T-shirt. Based on his appearance and conversations with him, police sought approval for the emergency evaluation and the search warrant.

Prescott had recently been fired from his position working for a Pitney Bowes subcontractor, according to police records.

Pitney Bowes spokeswoman Carol Wallace said in an emailed statement that Prescott had not been on company property for more than four months. He had raised alarms at the company before, she claimed.

"We have clear security protocol and when we had concerns about this individual, we contacted authorities," Wallace wrote. She declined to answer questions.

Calls to a couple identified as Prescott's parents  were not returned Friday, and no one answered Prescott's personal phone.

A neighbor who lived next door to Prescott's boyhood home in Catonsville described him as a shy teen.

"He was always kind of quiet, I didn't really see him outside much," said Betty Conrades. She remembers that he used to get a lot of packages delivered and that his sister went into a career in law enforcement.

Another neighbor, who lived across the street and asked that her name be withheld for privacy reasons, said she remembers Prescott as an introvert who spent most of his time on the computer. Both he and his sister were "very good kids," the woman said. "They were a very nice family."

Gary Crofoot, the man to whom Prescott allegedly made the threats, declined to comment Friday when reached via cell phone.

Baltimore Sun reporters Andrea F. Siegel and Erin Cox contributed to this report.