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Four Year Prison Sentence for ‘Pizzagate’ Shooter
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Summary: The man that shot up a pizzeria because he believed child sex slaves were kept inside received a harsh 4-year prison sentence.

A 29-year-old North Carolina man believed the reports he was reading on his computer about a conspiracy theory involving a Washington D.C. pizzeria. Edgar Maddison Welch was so sure that what he read was true that he traveled to the restaurant with an assault rifle. After firing the rifle in Comet Ping Pong on December 4, 2016, he surrendered. Welch was sentenced to four years in prison for the incident. Welch will also have three years of probation and must pay $5,744.33 in restitution.


Comet Ping Pong, located in the northwest area of Washington D.C., was believed to be connected to a child sex slave ring involving Hillary Clinton. He fired three shots with his AR-15 assault rifle before investigating further and realizing there were no child sex slave victims in the store. A false story circulating online linked Clinton’s campaign adviser, John Podesta, to the pizzeria through coded messages in Podesta’s leaked emails. Luckily no one was injured in the attack and once Welch found no evidence of sex trafficking, he surrendered.

Wikileaks released the emails in early November 2016, of which conspiracy theorists quickly jumped upon. The idea that members of the Democratic Party were involved in pedophilia and sex trafficking first came about just a month before when the New York City Police Department was investigating Anthony Weiner in a sexting scandal. When these theorists saw Podesta’s emails, they believed many of the words could be code for human trafficking and pedophilia. A number of fake news websites ran with this theory, claiming that the NYPD and Federal Bureau of Investigation had raided Clinton’s home. The link to pizza came when the word “cheese pizza” was believed to be code for child pornography because they had the same initials. Eventually, Comet Ping Pong was brought into the theory.

Welch pleaded guilty in March in federal court to gun charges of interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to commit an offense. He has had very few issues with the law in the past but the sentence exceeded the average sentence of 37-months for “similar charges” and far exceeded the defense’s plea for an 18-month sentence.

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Judge Ketanji B. Jackson said of her decision for a longer sentence, “The extent of recklessness in this case is breathtaking. It is sheer luck that no one, including (Welch), was killed. I’ve never seen anything like the conduct we see here today.” She believed he had good intentions but his actions were “an assault on the rule of law.” She hoped the sentence would send a message to other “ill-conceived plots.”

Welch’s girlfriend testified that when he told her what he was going to do, she had tried to talk him out of doing it. When the prosecution played a short two-minute clip he had recorded in the car on the way to the pizzeria of him saying goodbye to his young daughters, she teared up.

Other testimonies were offered by witnesses, including owner James Alefantis and two employees. All three mentioned the psychological trauma they experienced because of his actions. Alefantis said, “I do hope that one day, in a more thoughtful world, everyone of us will remember this day as an aberration…when the world went mad, and fake news was real.”

Many of the witnesses have forgiven Welch. Assistant federal defender Dani Jahn thanked the victims for their “humanity” in her opening remarks. The victims blame the fake news websites that built up the conspiracy. One witness stated, “I hope you realize that you have been a pawn of the misguided media.”

Many would like Welch to receive a mental health evaluation with Jackson agreeing. Jahn initially fought against a mental health issue but has since agreed that it would best.

What do you think makes Welch and others believe conspiracy theories so easily? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about other popular conspiracy theories, read these articles:



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