Pizzagate Shooter Gets 4-Year Prison Stretch

WASHINGTON (CN) – The man who brought an assault rifle to the pizzeria at the center of a sordid political conspiracy theory received a four-year federal prison sentence Thursday.

Edgar Maddison Welch, a 29-year-old resident of Salisbury, North Carolina, was arrested at the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria on Dec. 4 after he entered the Washington, D.C., restaurant and fired a single shot into a door, scaring employees and customers alike.

Armed with a .38 caliber revolver and a loaded shotgun as well, Welch has confessed that he fired the assault rifle while trying to gain access to a locked office in the back of the restaurant that would not yield to the butter knife he tried first.

When a pizza dough-wielding employee came upon Welch minutes later, Welch turned toward the worker with his assault rifle, and the employee fled, unharmed.

All told the pizzeria siege lasted just 20 minutes, with Welch leaving his guns inside as he surrendered to police surrounding the restaurant.

He told authorities that he made the trip north after having spent hours viewing online videos about a conspiracy theory that Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis operated a child-sex ring that catered to the political elite.

In addition to his pizza business, Alefantis is an influential member of beltway circles. The Pizzagate conspiracy theory began brewing when a number of odd correspondences between Alefantis and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, came to light through the hack of the Democratic National Convention’s email servers.

Though Welch’s shooting is widely believed to have discredited the Pizzagate theory, internet message boards remain committed to its tale — speculating that the Democrats coerced Welch’s escapade as a “false flag” operation.

Welch’s local newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, reported that Welch is an actor with various film credits and a criminal record that began in 2007 with drug and alcohol charges.

He was arrested just over a month before the Comet Ping Pong shooting for reportedly striking a 13-year-old with his car in Salisbury, but the incident did not result in criminal charges.

As part of his March 24 plea deal, Welch copped to one count of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Jackson sentenced the father of two to a four-year prison term and a three-year term of supervised release Thursday.

Judge Jackson also ordered a mental health assessment and demanded that Welch stay clear of Comet Ping Pong when released. 

Welch must pay roughly $6,000 for property damage.

In a statement on the sentencing hearing this afternoon, U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips quoted Jackson as calling “the extent of recklessness in this case is breathtaking,” saying the lack of injuries were “sheer luck.” 

In a handwritten apology filed with the court on June 13, Welch said that he never intended to “harm or frighten innocent lives.”

Welch also called his own actions foolish and reckless.

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