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'Pizzagate' Shooter Receives His Sentence

Edgar Welch sentenced to 4 years in prison for opening fire in restaurant
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2017 3:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – A man who drove all the way from North Carolina to Washington DC and opened fire inside a pizza restaurant because of an internet conspiracy theory was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday, the BBC reports. According to WTOP, 28-year-old Edgar Welch, a father of two, had watched hours of YouTube videos about "Pizzagate," which claimed a child sex ring connected to Hillary Clinton was being run out of Comet Ping Pong. Police and the FBI have said there is absolutely no truth to the conspiracy theory, NBC News reports. Regardless, Welch brought a rifle and pistol into the restaurant in what prosecutors called an "armed invasion" and shot into a locked cabinet where he thought children were being kept.

Welch pleaded guilty in March to assault and firearms charges. "It was never my intention to harm or frighten innocent lives, but I realize now just how foolish and reckless my decision was," Welch wrote in a letter to the judge. The judge said Welch should have contacted authorities but instead took matters into his own hands, leaving behind "psychological wreckage." Comet Ping Pong has hired a security guard, employees have needed counseling, and owner James Alefantis says the incident has "left lasting damage on the people I love." Welch's lawyer had asked for an 18-month sentence, but prosecutors say a longer sentence was needed to discourage others from acting on internet conspiracy theories. (Read more PizzaGate stories.)

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