| WASHINGTON, March 24
WASHINGTON, March 24 A North Carolina man
pleaded guilty on Friday to opening fire in a Washington
pizzeria that fake news reports claimed housed a child sex ring
linked to 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary
Edgar Welch, 28, of Salisbury, was accused of firing at
least three shots from an AR-15 rifle inside the Comet Ping Pong
pizzeria in December and pointing the gun at an employee after
showing up to investigate the online conspiracy rumors. No one
Welch pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a federal
charge of interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to
commit an offense and a local charge of assault with a dangerous
He could face up to two years in prison on the federal
charge and a maximum five years for the assault charge. Judge
Ketanji Brown Jackson scheduled sentencing for June 22.
A local charge of possessing a firearm during a crime of
violence was dropped as part of Welch's plea.
Welch told police he had driven from North Carolina to
Washington to investigate a bogus conspiracy theory known as
"pizzagate." Posts to social media sites such as Twitter,
Facebook and the Reddit online message board falsely claimed
Comet was the home of a child sex ring run by Clinton and her
campaign chairman, John Podesta.
The claims were part of a proliferation of false news
reports during the U.S. presidential election campaign, often
disseminated through websites purporting to be news outlets and
quoting bogus sources.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins)