Police: Gun-toting Salisbury man wanted to investigate ‘Pizza Gate'

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A 28-year-old Salisbury man arrested for firing an assault rifle inside a Washington, D.C., restaurant Sunday also had a handgun and a shotgun, according to the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.

Edgar Maddison Welch told authorities he wanted to investigate for himself an online conspiracy theory that targeted the establishment in a fake news story, according to a statement from police.

“[Welch] didn't make any eye contact with anybody. He didn't ask for any help,” said Comet Ping Pong bartender Lee Elmore.

Welch, who local neighbors said goes by Maddison, walked into the pizzeria and pointed the rifle toward an employee before firing, according to police.

"That's pretty shocking. It's surprising," Salisbury resident Marlinda Davis said.

In a Facebook picture, Welch is seen holding up an assault rifle similar to the one police said he fired inside Comet Ping Pong.

Facebook: Maddison Welch

No one was hurt. Welch is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Police recovered an AR-15, a handgun, a shotgun and a knife. Two firearms were recovered inside the restaurant, including the AR-15. The third firearm was recovered from Welch’s vehicle, police said.

Police said Welch admitted he was at Comet Ping Pong to investigate a fake news story about Hillary Clinton running a child-sex ring out of the restaurant.

The conspiracy theory surfaced online before the presidential election.

"I think people believe what they want to believe and so you put some kind of fake news out there that people want to believe and they jump on it," Salisbury resident Mac Wallace said.

The pizza restaurant was closed Monday as the FBI helped in the investigation.

Eyewitness News anchor Liz Foster went to Welch's Salisbury home. No one answered.

Rowan County court records show Welch was convicted of driving while impaired in 2013 and received probation.

Channel 9 confirmed Welch was just removed from the roster at the Spencer Fire Department within the last couple of weeks.

The chief said he was a volunteer firefighter for about six months but hadn't shown up to meetings and training.

He also volunteered with the Locke Fire Department four years ago.

In October, Salisbury police said Welch was driving when he hit a 13-year-old pedestrian, who was airlifted to the hospital. Welch was never charged in that accident.

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