With the deadly shooting that killed 12 people and injured 58 at an Aurora, Colo., theater still fresh in people's minds, authorities in Prince George's Countywere right to waste no time last week investigating the case of a
In the case of Neil Edwin Prescott, who had worked at mail services supplier
That's a far larger arsenal than the one assembled by
Moreover, despite Maryland's gun laws, Mr. Prescott was able to assemble enough weaponry to outfit a small army, apparently without raising anyone's suspicions. At least half the firearms he owned were legally registered in the state. That's he was able to get so far without detection suggests there was a serious possibility he could have pulled off a copycat crime based on the Aurora massacre, if that was indeed his intention.
Prince George's County police took Mr. Prescott into custody Friday and immediately took him to
The circumstances of Mr. Prescott's detention are eerily similar to those surrounding the so-called "lone wolf" suspects in terrorism cases, who federal authorities have described as the most difficult subjects to track because they are not part of any organized criminal group or network. Because they operate in relative isolation from close friends or family members who might become suspicious of their activities, they can plot and carry out extraordinary acts of violence before anyone realizes what they're up to.
Fortunately in this case, Mr. Prescott's former employers had the presence of mind to alert authorities after receiving the threats. A Pitney Bowes spokesman declined to answer questions about Mr. Prescott's employment history, but he indicated that his behavior had raised similar alarms in the past.
If so, one wonders what those incidents involved and whether they were reported to authorities. Most employers have confidentiality polices that protect workers from the unauthorized distribution of potentially damaging personal information, but the flip side of that can be that colleagues and the public are left with no way of knowing when an individual poses a danger.