Earlier this year, Edgar Maddison Welch, the “Pizzagate” shooter pleaded guilty to weapons charges, and now he’s been sentenced to four years in prison and received three years of probation on time of over $5,000 in fines.
Welch gained notoriety in 2016 after driving from his home in North Carolina to Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C. to investigate an online conspiracy theory that said the restaurant was at the center of a child sex slavery ring that was connected to Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta. Welch fired multiple shots from his AR-15 inside the restaurant before discovering that there were no sex slaves or hidden rooms, at which point he turned himself in to police.
In a letter to a federal judge, Welch apologized for his actions:
Writing in his own hand, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, said in a court filing that he was “truly sorry for endangering the safety of any and all bystanders who were present that day. Unfortunately, I cannot change what I did, but I think I owe it to the families and the community to apologize for my mistakes.”
The letter, which was cite by his defense in an attempt to receive leniency, also says that Welch only acted “with the intent of helping people” and regretted any trauma he caused to those present. Welch added, “It was never my intention to harm or frighten innocent lives, but I realize now just how foolish and reckless my decision was.” In text messages sent while headed to D.C., Welch alluded to being prepared to “possibly sacrificing the lives of a few for the lives of many.”
Prosecutors countered that a harsh sentence was necessary in order to deter people from participating in vigilante justice based on what they read on the internet and that it was “good luck” that no one was hurt in the incident.