The North Carolina man who fired an assault-style rifle into a Washington D.C. restaurant while investigating "Pizzagate" pleaded guilty on Friday to two weapons charges. He walked into the restaurant in December with the loaded guns and fired a shot from the rifle into a door.
When he's sentenced in June, he'll likely received 18 to 25 months on the federal charge and 18 months to five years on the local charge.
Welch pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a federal charge of interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to commit an offences and a local charge of assault with a risky weapon. Sentences on the charges could run either consecutively or concurrently. Welch was originally charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, but it was dropped as part of his plea agreement.
Police also recovered a shotgun and ammunition inside Welch's auto.
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Welch told police he went to Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in to investigate an internet conspiracy theory involving Democrats.
"Upon arriving at the restaurant, Welch parked his auto and armed himself". Welch read the fake news on non-credible websites and watched YouTube videos that spread the fake story, according to the plea agreement. According to court documents, the employees and customers fled and Welch found a locked storage closet. He was carrying the AR-15 assault rifle and the revolver. Later, Welch pointed the AR-15 at a restaurant worker before shooting a computer and a lock on a backroom door.
The incident made national headlines when it occurred on December 4, following weeks of harassment and death threats over "Pizzagate" for Comet Ping Pong, its employees, and neighbors, and musicians who performed there, causing them to increase security for events.
During the Friday hearing, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson asked Welch if he transported weapons from his home in North Carolina to the Washington, D.C. pizzeria.