Washington grand jury indicts suspected pizzeria gunman on assault charge

Reuters News
|
Posted: Dec 15, 2016 4:07 PM

(Reuters) - A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a North Carolina man on assault and firearms charges for taking a rifle to a Washington, D.C., pizzeria that conspiracy theorists claimed without evidence was a front for a child sex ring.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, entered the crowded Comet Ping Pong restaurant on Dec. 4, fired an AR-15 rifle several times and pointed it in the direction of an employee who fled in fear, according to authorities.

The indictment charges him with assault with a dangerous weapon, interstate transportation of a firearm to commit a crime and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.

A lawyer for Welch could not immediately be reached for comment.

Welch, of Salisbury, North Carolina, is scheduled to appear in court on Friday, a spokesman for prosecutors said.

Welch told authorities he wanted to free children from a pedophilia ring that conspiracy websites said 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ran out of the restaurant.

He planned the raid for days and tried to rally friends to the attack, asking them to watch a YouTube video about the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory, according to federal court documents filed on Tuesday.

No one was hurt in the shooting, although the stories about Comet Ping Pong have prompted threats against the business and its employees.

(Reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)