The man who fired an assault rifle inside a Washington, D.C. pizzeria in December was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and transporting a firearm over state lines. At the time of the incident, the North Carolina resident, Edgar Maddison Welch, said he was “self-investigating” a claim that Hillary Clinton and her then-campaign chief, John Podesta, were running a pedophilia ring out of the restaurant’s back rooms. The conspiracy theory was likely generated by a white supremacy Twitter account before gaining traction across various online message boards and fake news sites leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
In what he believed was an attempt to rescue child sex slaves, Welch entered the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, before 3:00 p.m. on December 4, 2016 and fired multiple shots. Court documents later revealed that Welch was intent on “[sacrificing] the lives of a few for the lives of many.” Upon finding no evidence to support his theory, Welch ultimately surrendered to police without causing any injuries. The story, which earned the nickname “Pizzagate,” was later cited as a cautionary tale of the gravity of fake news.