A criminal complaint filed in federal court Tuesday reveals new details surrounding the strange case of Edgar Maddison Welch, the gunman in a bizarre attack earlier this month on a D.C. pizzeria.
The new revelations could explain how Welch, a 28-year-old North Carolina man, purportedly became obsessed with the baseless theory that the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria doubles as a front for a high-level Democratic pedophile ring.
Welch now faces federal charges that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Before he arrived to “investigate” the pizzeria on Dec. 4, allegedly firing shots from an AR-15 rifle and sending customers fleeing, Welch watched YouTube videos about the “Pizzagate” theory and visited Comet’s website on his cellphone.
Welch also urged a friend to watch a “Pizzagate” video produced by Alex Jones’s InfoWars website, a conspiracy hub that supported President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE’s campaign.
Trump sat for an interview with Jones during the 2016 election. Jones claims Trump called to thank him after he won the White House.
Researching “Pizzagate” had made Welch feel “sick,” according to a message he sent his girlfriend before the shooting.
“The world is too afraid to act, and I’m too stubborn not to,” Welch told a friend before he drove to D.C., according to prosecutors.
The conspiracy theory gained prominence on fringe right-wing websites during the election, when WikiLeaks published emails from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE campaign chairman John Podesta that discussed eating pizza, including at Comet.
The theory's promoters claim, without evidence, that “pizza” is code for various criminal sexual acts. The idea has led to death threats against Comet's staff, as well as people who work at other businesses on its block.
Welch’s actions have become a flashpoint in the debate over “fake news,” which has spread across the internet and provoked social media giants like Facebook to reevaluate how news is shared on their platforms.
Welch is accused of transporting firearms across state lines to commit an illegal offense. Along with the AR-15, Welch alleged carried a loaded .38 caliber revolver into the restaurant and had another loaded rifle in his car.
No one was injured during the raid. The criminal complaint says Welch pointed a gun at one employee and fired several rounds to open a locked door inside the restaurant, which he found to be unoccupied.
According to the affidavit, Welch told officers that he heard about the “Pizzagate” rumors on the internet and traveled to Washington, D.C., to free the children he believed had been enslaved.
In an interview with The New York Times after the shooting, Welch conceded that "the intel on this wasn't 100 percent."