Reporting Adam May
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJZ) –Back home. A Maryland man accused of threatening a workplace shooting is free from a mental hospital.
Adam May has the latest twist in this case.
Prosecutors say they lack legal means to keep him in custody. Friends say this so-called joker is misunderstood.
Neil Prescott is now home with family in Parkton, Baltimore County, after being held in a psychiatric facility for almost three weeks.
Last month police say he threatened to kill his co-workers. In his apartment they found almost two dozen guns and loads of ammo.
Prescott answered his door in a T-shirt that said, “Guns don’t kill people. I do.”
“I believe when people like Mr. Prescott threaten violence in this day and age, he should be facing felony charges, not just misdemeanor charges,” said Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s State’s Attorney.
Prosecutors are upset state law limits them to minor charges of misusing telephone equipment.
“When you hear the headlines, you need to reserve judgment,” said Andy Levy, criminal defense attorney.
Levy says the case opens a debate on prosecuting the mentally ill.
“We had an individual who for whatever reason, mentally unstable, and was saying things that had people concerned, but it’s not clear he was a genuine threat to public safety,” Levy said.
Prescott’s threats came just days after the Batman movie massacre in Colorado.
And although police say he told his boss he was the “joker,” friends exclusively describe Prescott to WJZ as quiet and harmless.
“I grow concerned people are reaching to harsh terms to describe Neil, such as terrorist,” a friend said.”If anything he was a gentle giant or iron teddy bear.”
But police stand by their initial concerns.
“We believe that a tragedy was averted,” Alsobrooks said. “I absolutely believe these charges are insufficient for the threat Mr. Prescott made.”
No one answered the door at Prescott’s family home in northern Baltimore County. His attorney has declined comment.
Police and prosecutors plan to lobby for tougher state laws against threatening workplace violence.