WASHINGTON — The North Carolina man whom police say fired shots in a Washington pizzeria while investigating an online conspiracy theory known as “Pizzagate” will face new federal charges Tuesday, according to the US Attorney’s office.
After reading a false story circulating online that the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in Northwest D.C. was harboring child sex slaves, 28-year-old Edgar Welch, of Salisbury, allegedly traveled to the nation’s capital armed with an assault rifle and other guns to “investigate” and rescue the children, according to police. No one was injured in the incident, but prosecutors allege Welch pointed a gun at a Comet employee and fired an AR-15 multiple times while in the restaurant.
Welch has been held in custody since the incident on December 4.
Although Welch originally faced only local gun-related charges, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia explained Tuesday it was dropping all local charges and has now added a more serious federal charge against Welch, including interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to commit an offense, which carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison.
The newly filed federal complaint provides several new details of Welch’s alleged activities leading up to the incident, including his cell phone calls and text messages.
Prosecutors allege that Welch recorded a video on his cell phone while driving to D.C. in which he “told his family members he loved them” and “(t)he evidence from Welch’s cell phone also suggests that Welch attempted to recruit at least two other people to join him,” according to the complaint.
Welch appeared briefly in DC Superior Court Tuesday morning, appearing cleanly shaven and donning a new short haircut. He is next scheduled to appear in federal district court Tuesday afternoon.