New details have emerged in the case of the so-called “Pizzagate” shooting, including the content of several chilling text messages. ABC News reports suspect Edgar Maddison Welch sent the disturbing messages to his friends and girlfriend in the lead-up to the alleged shooting.
In court documents unsealed Wednesday, a clearer picture emerges of the events December 4, 2016. That was the day that Welch showed up at Comet Ping Pong, a popular Washington, D.C. pizzeria, and allegedly brandished a firearm, causing terrified customers and employees to flee. Welch would later tell authorities that he was there to “investigate” allegations of a pedophile ring supposedly being run out of the restaurant — an allegation for which there is absolutely zero basis in fact.
Authorities say that, before driving from his home in North Carolina to Washington, Welch texted his girlfriend that he had been researching the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which he said was making him “sick.” He then stated that he intended to “[raid] a pedo ring, possibly sacrificing the lives of a few for the lives of many.”
“I’m sorry bro, but I’m tired of turning on the channel and hoping someone does something and being thankful it’s not my family. One day it will be our families. The world is too afraid to act and I’m too stubborn not to.”
During the drive, Welch recorded a video to his family, telling them that he loved them and hoped that he had shown it. Then he texted his girlfriend, telling her he “might be gone awhile.”
At about 3 p.m., Welch arrived in Washington and made his way to Comet Ping Pong. There, with an AR-15 assault rifle he was carrying across his chest, he entered the restaurant, making his way to the back of the building as customers and employees fled. An employee claims Welch pointed his weapon at him — an accusation Welch denies.
Welch then carried out his “investigation” of the restaurant, looking for supposed evidence of a pedophile ring and finding none. At one point, he reached a locked door that he tried to jimmy open with a butter knife. Failing that, authorities say, he fired a few rounds at the lock in order to gain entry; that, too failed. He then climbed over a top of boxes to get a peek inside and found nothing.
While he was carrying out his investigation, police were forming a perimeter around the building. He exited peacefully and without incident, leaving his weapons inside. He would later allegedly admit to police that he was there to investigate a pedophile ring and that he found no evidence.
Authorities believe that Welch was motivated by so-called “fake news” stories attached to the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. The theory holds that Comet Ping Pong, a quirky restaurant and music venue in the heart of D.C., is the front for a pedophile and human trafficking ring connected to Hillary Clinton.
The “evidence” for the Pizzagate theory is thin at best, and has been thoroughly debunked. According to the conspiracy theory, John Podesta’s emails, leaked by Wikileaks, contain coded references to human trafficking, according to the Miami Herald. Somehow that led to the belief that the owners of Comet Ping Pong were connected, spread by rumor-mongers on social media and internet message boards, leading to harassment of the owners and customers of the pizzeria even before the December 4 shooting.
The shooting brought to focus the problem of so-called “Fake news” and how its spread could be tied to violent acts committed by individuals who believe it.
This is a developing story; more information about the Pizzagate shooting will be provided as it becomes available.
[Featured Image by Jessica Gresko/AP Photo]