SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) 12/08 — The Latest on the man accused of firing an assault rifle inside a Washington restaurant while investigating an online hoax (all times local):
A man accused of bringing a military-style rifle to a Washington pizzeria in a misguided attempt to rescue child sex slaves is set to appear in court.
The arrest of 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch brought international attention to the conspiracy theory known as “pizzagate.”
Police say the North Carolina man brought an AR-15 rifle to a restaurant called Comet Ping Pong on Sunday and fired it several times while inside. Police say Welch surrendered peacefully after he found no evidence that the pizzeria was involved in sex trafficking.
Unfounded rumors had spread online linking the restaurant and prominent Democrats to child exploitation.
Welch is being held without bail on charges including assault with a dangerous weapon. Thursday’s hearing will give his public defender an opportunity to argue for his release.
The man accused of firing an assault rifle inside a Washington restaurant says he regrets how he handled the situation but refused to completely dismiss the false online claims of child sex trafficking that brought him there.
Edgar Maddison Welch has been jailed since his Sunday arrest and spoke to The New York Times in a videoconference Wednesday.
Welch told the newspaper he wanted to do good but went about it the wrong way. He said he started driving to Washington from his North Carolina home, intending only to give the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant a “closer look.”
But while he found no evidence of a child sex ring, Welch wouldn’t completely dismiss the online claims, saying only that there were no children in the building.
The man accused of firing an assault rifle inside a restaurant appears to have lived an aimless life that became turbulent in the weeks before he was drawn to Washington by an online hoax.
Friends and family call Edgar Maddison Welch a well-meaning father of two girls. But he also unnerved some with his religious fervor and sometimes had trouble detaching himself from the internet.
Police say he came to the pizza restaurant Sunday on a self-imposed mission to investigate a false account of a child sex ring that had spread through fake internet news stories. He’s due in court Thursday.
In October, Edgar Maddison Welch struck a teenage pedestrian with his car, a police report said. More recently, he was dropped from the rolls of a volunteer fire department.