The man who allegedly fired shots inside the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria Sunday apparently thought he was on a rescue mission. According to court documents seen by Politico and BuzzFeed, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch fired three shots inside the Washington, DC, eatery, spent 45 minutes searching the premises and "surrendered peacefully when he found no evidence that underage children were being harbored in the restaurant." The North Carolina man told cops he was "self-investigating" the bizarre "PizzaGate" conspiracy theory, which accuses the restaurant's owner of running a child sex-trafficking ring that involves Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and other top Democrats.
The shots Welch fired from an AR-15-style assault rifle hit walls, a door, and a computer, according to court documents. Family and friends describe Welch as the devoted father of two young girls and say they don't believe he intended to harm anybody. "He most likely really believes the conspiracy theory," Kathy Sue Holtorf, one of Welch's closest friends, tells the Washington Post. "He's a good guy with the best of intentions. He probably saw himself as more on a hero mission to save children than anything else." She says he is "a well-educated man," not a "conspiracy-theory nut." At a court appearance Monday, Welch was charged with offenses including assault with a dangerous weapon. (Read more conspiracy theory stories.)