‘Pizzagate’ Now a Federal Case; Shooter Anticipated Violence

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The man accused of commandeering a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant with an assault-style rifle anticipated that his efforts could end in violence as he investigated false rumors of a child sex ring, the Washington Post reports. New details, including ­allegations that Edgar Maddison Welch tried to recruit two ­co-conspirators, add a chilling twist to the case. Friends and family members had earlier said they thought the 28-year-old North Carolina man was on a mission to save children, not to hurt anybody. Prosecutors wrote in a criminal complaint that “it appears Welch had been contemplating a violent confrontation at the restaurant.” They outlined text messages he sent in the days before the Dec. 4 incident at Comet Ping Pong. “Raiding a pedo ring, possible [sic] sacrificing the lives of a few for the lives of many,” federal prosecutors say Welch texted a friend two days before he drove to Washington. The text continued: “Standing up against a corrupt system that kidnaps, tortures and rapes ­babies and children in our own backyard.”

Police said Welch was ­consumed with the viral fake news story, known as “Pizzagate,” that falsely linked Hillary ­Clinton to a child sex-trafficking ring. The conspiracy theory said the ring operated in the basement of Comet, where Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta, occasionally dined.  In the end, Welch did not shoot anyone and surrendered after he found no evidence of hidden rooms or sex trafficking. The documents state that adults and children were in the restaurant that Sunday afternoon and fled when the gunman walked inside with a .38-caliber Colt revolver and a Colt AR-15 rifle — loaded with 23 bullets — strapped across his chest. The information detailing Welch’s apparent planning is in court documents filed as Welch’s criminal case was moved from the local courts to the federal system.

 

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