World

Edgar Welch, 'pizzagate' gunman in Washington, sentenced to 4 years in prison

Edgar Welch was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for firing an assault rifle inside a Washington, D.C., restaurant during his own investigation of a conspiracy theory dubbed pizzagate.

He admitted in court that he entered restaurant with an AR-15 and a revolver, and fired shots

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Democrats running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, has been sentenced to four years in prison. (Sathi Soma/Associated Press)

A North Carolina man who fired an assault rifle inside a District of Columbia restaurant during his own investigation of a conspiracy theory dubbed "pizzagate" was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Kentanji B. Jackson said that while nobody was injured when Edgar Maddison Welch fired his weapon inside the Comet Ping Pong restaurant on Dec. 4, his actions "literally left psychological wreckage."

Welch acknowledged as part of a guilty plea in March that he entered the restaurant with an AR-15 and a revolver. He said he drove to the restaurant from North Carolina to investigate unfounded internet rumours about Democrats harbouring child sex slaves there.

The judge said Welch "forged ahead" with an "ill-conceived plot" even though others urged him to abandon it. If Welch believed children were being harmed, he should have notified law enforcement, the judge said.

Welch's attorney had asked for a sentence of 1½ years in prison, while prosecutors wanted 4½ years.

Welch spoke briefly to apologize, saying he realized that his words "cannot undo or change what already happened."

His mother, father, sister and fiancée were in the courtroom.

Two Comet Ping Pong workers and owner James Alefantis spoke before sentencing. Alefantis called "pizzagate" a "vicious web of lies" and said many people had suffered because of Welch's actions.

Flowers and notes left by well-wishers outside Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 9, 2016. (Jessica Gresko/Associated Press)

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