Reporting Meghan McCorkell
CROFTON, Md. (WJZ)— Police say he threatened to load his guns and blow up his workplace, but Neil Prescott only faces a misdemeanor charge. It’s a charge even law enforcement says isn’t enough.
Meghan McCorkell has more on why.
Prescott, 28, is charged with misuse of telephone facilities and equipment, a misdemeanor. That’s because here in Maryland, there’s no felony charge for making a threat over the phone.
An arsenal of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were found inside the apartment of Neil Prescott. Police searched his Crofton home after they say he called his former boss and claimed, “I am a joker. I’m going to load my guns and blow everybody up.”
With the movie theater massacre in Colorado, that set off alarms.
“We believe that a tragedy was averted in this case,” said Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw.
But prosecutors can only charge Prescott with a misdemeanor.
“The state of law in Maryland at this time does not make it a felony and does not make it an express crime to communicate a threat,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.
The maximum sentence is three years in jail and a $500 fine.
“I believe that this is insufficient, especially in light of Mr. Prescott’s alleged threatening statements,” Alsobrooks said.
Law enforcement officials say Prescott will be banned from buying any more guns until his case moves through the court system. He’s currently in the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
“It’s a serious concern when someone has a mental problem and they are going to have a lot of guns,” said Hubert Williams, Police Foundation.
Williams says more needs to be done at the state level to crack down on guns.
“What kind of disaster do we need before we’re going to be shocked and awakened in our consciousness that there should be limits with respect to these things?” he said.
Prosecutors are vowing to lobby for a felony threat statute before a tragedy becomes reality.
If Prescott is convicted of this misdemeanor, he would be banned from owning guns. Federal charges are also pending against him.
In D.C., where there is a felony threat statute, the sentence for this type of crime is 20 years behind bars.