A federal grand jury returned an indictment Thursday bringing two additional charges against a North Carolina man accused of commandeering a Washington pizza restaurant with an assault-style rifle on Dec. 4.
Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, N.C., who was charged Tuesday by police complaint with a federal count of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, was also accused in the indictment of two D.C. offenses: assault with a dangerous weapon and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
Welch is scheduled to appear at 9:30 a.m. Friday to enter a plea in the incident at Comet Ping Pong in Northwest Washington. Prosecutors also are asking U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey for Welch’s continued detention.
Welch’s federal defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thursday’s two-page bare-bones indictment, released by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District, does not add any details to an account previously provided in an FBI affidavit and a complaint charging document filed earlier this week.
In the affidavit, an FBI agent wrote that it appeared that Welch contemplated “a violent confrontation” at the restaurant, citing text messages and calling records.
“Raiding a pedo ring, possible [sic] sacrificing the lives of a few for the lives of many,” Welch texted a friend two days before he drove to Washington in a Toyota Prius, according to federal prosecutors. The text continued: “Standing up against a corrupt system that kidnaps, tortures and rapes ¬babies and children in our own backyard.”
Police said Welch was consumed with the viral fake-news story known as “Pizzagate,” which falsely linked Hillary Clinton to a child sex-trafficking ring. The conspiracy theory said the ring operated in the basement of Comet Ping Pong, where Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta, occasionally dined.
Previous court documents state that Welch told police that he had come to the restaurant to investigate rumors of a child-sex-ring operating at the location.
In the end, Welch did not shoot anyone and surrendered after he found no evidence of hidden rooms or sex trafficking, police said. The documents filed earlier state that adults and children were in the restaurant that Sunday afternoon and fled when the gunman walked inside with a .38-caliber Colt revolver and a Colt AR-15 rifle — loaded with 23 bullets — strapped across his chest.
Welch fired the assault-style weapon two or three times in the restaurant, police said. They said he also pointed the rifle in the direction of an employee who had emerged from the back with pizza dough after everyone else had fled.