‘Pizzagate’ gunman facing 35yrs in prison gets plea deal
At a status hearing in a District of Columbia court on Wednesday, lawyers for Edgar Maddison Welch said they reached a plea deal in principle, but the terms of the offer were not disclosed.
Prosecutors allege that Welch, 28, drove from Salisbury, North Carolina, to DC’s Comet Ping Pong restaurant on December 4, in an attempt to investigate rumors that linked former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to a pedophile ring run out of the basement of the restaurant occasionally visited by John Podesta, her presidential campaign chairman.
The conspiracy has been dubbed “Pizzagate.”
Court documents allege that Welch walked into the restaurant with an AR-15 and a .38 revolver in a holster on his hip, and fired multiple shots, but no one was injured.
Authorities say that Welch was contemplating “a violent confrontation” since December 1, citing text messages that he exchanged with his “army buddies,” where he said he was planning to raid the restaurant, “possibly sacraficing (sic) the lives of a few for the lives of many.”
According to court documents, Welch searched the restaurant for evidence of hidden rooms or tunnels. Upon finding a locked door, Welch fired his AR-15 at the lock but was unable to open the door. Welch resorted to climbing furniture to see into the locked room and found it was unoccupied.
After he was unable to find any evidence of child sex-trafficking, “he exited the restaurant and surrendered himself to police officers that were already on-scene.”
On December 16, Welch pleaded not guilty to federal charges of interstate transportation of a firearm to commit a crime, and District of Columbia charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm during a commission of violence.
The combined charges carry a maximum of 35 years in prison. He is expected to plead guilty under a plea deal.
US District Judge Ketanji Jackson scheduled a plea hearing for March 24, when Welch could plead to fewer or lesser charges, and prosecutors could agree to a shorter sentence. However, Jackson is not obligated to accept any plea offers of agreed-upon sentences.