Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the judge hearing this case. This version has been corrected.
A federal judge agreed Thursday to seal personal information extracted by police from the cellphones of people who communicated with a North Carolina man accused of commandeering a Washington pizza restaurant and firing several shots from an assault-style rifle Dec. 4.
Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, N.C., made his first appearance before U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who said she would grant the request by prosecutors, which was unopposed by Welch’s federal defender.
Jackson set Welch’s next court date for Jan. 24 as the government turns over evidence including police reports, photographs and a video of Welch’s police interview, with witness statements still to come.
Welch has pleaded not guilty to federal and local firearms and assault charges in the incident, which prosecutors said Welch’s communications indicate was motivated by a viral fake-news story known as “Pizzagate.” The conspiracy theory falsely linked Hillary Clinton to a child sex-trafficking ring purportedly operated in the basement of Comet Ping Pong, where Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta, occasionally dined.
Welch set off a panicked evacuation by customers, allegedly walking into the restaurant with a .38-caliber Colt revolver and a loaded Colt AR-15 rifle strapped across his chest. In the end, no one was injured, and Welch surrendered after he found no evidence of hidden rooms or sex trafficking, police said.