The Crofton man taken into custody last week by authorities -- who found him to be heavily armed and said he might have been planning a Colorado-style mass shooting -- was charged Wednesday with one count of misdemeanor telephone misuse.
Authorities said Neil Prescott, 28, called himself "a joker" and threatened to shoot up his workplace. But Maryland prosecutors on Wednesday announced a single misdemeanor charge. Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said Prescott is facing a maximum sentence of three years behind bars and a $500 fine.
Prescott will be served an arrest warrant after he is released from the hospital. On Friday, he had surrendered to authorities and was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center for a mental-health evaluation, and officials said Prescott has been voluntarily committed to the hospital.
Alsobrooks said that there is no law in Maryland that makes it illegal to make a generalized threat over the phone. The section of Maryland Code that Prescott is accused of violating comes closest, she said.
"I believe that this is insufficient, especially in light of Mr. Prescott's alleged threatening statements," Alsobrooks said. "He ought to be facing felony charges."
When authorities searched Prescott's home on Friday, they found many guns. Alsobrooks said that they have determined that Prescott legally owned them.
Prescott will not able to recover his guns or purchase new ones while his case is pending or if he is convicted, Alsobrooks said.
No federal charges have been filed against Prescott, and a U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman said she could not comment Wednesday about whether federal charges will be filed.
Last week, Prince George's County police were informed of threats that Crofton made over the phone to a supervisor at Pitney Bowes, a software and mailing equipment supplier.
"I am a joker, I'm gonna load my guns and blow everybody up," Prescott said. According to a court document, this comment was a reference to the recent shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded when a gunman opened fire in an Aurora theater during a midnight screening of the "The Dark Knight Rises." The suspect in that incident died his hair orange-red and reportedly told officers that he was "The Joker."
A Pitney Bowes spokeswoman said in a statement Friday that Prescott "was an employee of a subcontractor to Pitney Bowes. He has not been on any Pitney Bowes property in more than four months."