Edgar Maddison Welch, who opened fired in a Washington DC pizza restaurant because of an online conspiracy theory, has been sentenced to four years in jail.
The 28-year-old burst into Comet Ping Pong on December 4, 2016, armed with a rifle and pistol.
The gunman drove from North Carolina to pursue bogus claims that the restaurant was the nexus of a pedophile ring linked to Hillary Clinton’s inner circle.
No one was injured in what prosecutors described as an “armed invasion”.
Edgar Maddison Welch fired an assault rifle into a locked cabinet, believing that abused children were being kept there.
Image source Wikipedia
Online conspiracy theorists had circulated a rumor that hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager contained clues to a pedophile ring.
James Alefantis, who owns the restaurant, testified in court that Edgar Maddison Welch’s “physical terror” had “left lasting damage on the people I love”.
He added that he hopes that “one day in a more truthful time we will remember this day as an aberration” when “lies were seen as real and our social fabric had frayed”, the Washington Post reported.
Edgar Maddison Welch, who has two young daughters, pleaded guilty in March to assault and firearms charges.
In a letter to US District Judge Ketanji Jackson, Edgar Maddison Welch apologized for “endangering the safety” of the pizzeria customers, adding “it was never my intention to harm or frighten innocent lives, but I realize now just how foolish and reckless my decision was”.
Prosecutors had argued that a lengthy sentence was required to “deter other people from pursuing vigilante justice based only on their YouTube feed”.
The assistant US attorneys Demian Ahn and Sonali Patel wrote: “Beyond Pizzagate, the internet is full of wild conspiracy theories where people urge members of the public… to take action.”
Comet Ping Pong was forced to hire security and also unplugged their phone due to abusive callers, the court heard.
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