Federal investigators say a North Carolina man spurred by an internet conspiracy theory tried to recruit others to join him in a violent confrontation at a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant, where he believed a child sex trafficking ring was operating.
28 year-old Edgar Maddison Welch has been held in jail since he was arrested after firing shots from an assault rifle inside the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in D.C. on December 4.
In charging documents released today , the FBI indicated Welch had been spurred to drive several hundred miles to Washington by a YouTube video about "Pizzagate," the conspiracy theory that claimed high-profile Democratic Party officials were running a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor owned by a supporter of Hillary Clinton.
"WELCH indicated that he had been researching "Pizzagate" and that it was making him "sick,"" FBI documents said, as Welch texted a friend about what videos he had looked at on the evening of December 1.
After getting a warrant for his cell phone, the FBI charging documents allege that evidence shows Welch tried to recruit others to join him, asking one friend if he had military friends who might want to help.
"Sound like we r freeing some oppressed pizza from the hands of an evil pizza joint," a friend identified as "C" wrote in one text.
When asked what the cause of trip would be, Welch replied, "Raiding a pedo ring," concluding that "The world is too afraid to act and I'm too stubborn not to."
Welch told investigators after his arrest that he wanted to "investigate" the conspiracy theory claims about Comet Ping Pong.
"WELCH said that he had read these reports on the internet, heard about the reports from other people, and heard about them on the radio," the criminal complaint stated.
On his way to Washington, the FBI says Welch told his girlfriend, that he "might be gone awhile."
Welch brought an AR-15 assault rife and a .38 revolver into the restaurant; police said he left a loaded shotgun in his car.
No trial date has been set for Welch.
The Comet Ping Pong restaurant has re-opened; its owners started a GoFundMe account last week to raise money for extra security to deal with people who remain convinced that the child sex conspiracy theory is real.
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