The Crofton man accused of threatening a workplace shooting and calling himself "a joker" appeared in a Prince George's County courtroom Tuesday, hours after leaving the inpatient psychiatric facility where he stayed voluntarily for more than three weeks after police raided his home.
A county mental health court judge released Neil Edwin Prescott, 28, into the custody of his parents and ruled that he must continue taking medication and attend counseling while he awaits arraignment in Upper Marlboro next week, according to court records.
He faces a single misdemeanor charge of misusing the telephone, which carries a maximum of three years in prison and a $500 fine. The case against Prescott drew national headlines when law enforcement officials said they had thwarted an incident that might have mimicked a recent shooting rampage in a Colorado movie theater. Prosecutors later said the evidence enabled them only to charge Prescott with a misdemeanor and called on state legislators to toughen laws against making threats.
Prescott, who legally owns more than two dozen firearms, is accused of threatening last month to "blow everybody up" at his former workplace, the mail services provider Pitney Bowes. His former supervisor told police that Prescott said in phone calls that he wanted to see the supervisor's "brain splatter all over the sidewalk" and repeatedly said, "I am a joker. I'm going to load my guns," according to court records.
The apparent allusion to the recent mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., during a showing of a "Batman" movie — along with Prescott's cache of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition — left authorities fearful of a copycat attack. Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded in Aurora.
Tuesday's court appearance was Prescott's first in the case. He will be fitted with a GPS ankle monitor, according to court records. The judge ordered Prescott not to have contact with his former employer or former co-workers or visit his former office in a Capitol Heights office park. A Pitney Bowes spokeswoman has said Prescott had not been on company property for four months before the calls.
Since police raided his apartment July 27, Prescott underwent an emergency psychiatric evaluation and voluntarily remained in the care of mental health experts, his attorney and prosecutors said.
In announcing the charge this month, Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said prosecutors regarded the telephone-misuse charge as insufficient, but said Maryland lacks felony laws against making generalized threats.
Prescott's attorney, William C. Brennan Jr., said he would not comment before trial and declined to say where Prescott had received treatment over the past few weeks.
Friends described Prescott, who is listed in court records as 6 feet 7 inches tall, as a gun enthusiast and "gentle giant."
Maryland State Police records show Prescott held a collector's license that waives state limits on purchasing one firearm every 30 days.