The Slatest

Comet Pizzeria Gunman Says “the Intel on This Wasn’t 100 percent” in First Interview

The sign of Comet Ping Pong pizzeria is seen on Connecticut Avenue Dec. 5, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The New York Times managed the first interview Wednesday with the Comet Ping Pong gunman, Edgar Maddison Welch. Welch was, of course, “self-investigating” the crackpot conspiracy theory “Pizzagate” that has somehow managed to create an alternatve universe where the local Washington, D.C. pizzeria is a child sex trafficking hub. Welch drove from his home in North Carolina armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle to the restaurant, where he fired shots before being arrested.

Welch described what he was thinking during a 45-minute videoconference conversation with the Times’ Adam Goldman:

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Mr. Welch appeared downcast and at times distracted as he answered questions… “I just wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way,” he said… He left [Salisbury, North Carolina] … with the intention of giving the restaurant a “closer look” and then returning home. He wanted to “shine some light on it.” As he made his way to Washington, he felt his “heart breaking over the thought of innocent people suffering.” … “The intel on this wasn’t 100 percent,” he said. However, he refused to dismiss outright the claims in the online articles, conceding only that there were no children “inside that dwelling.” He also said that child slavery was a worldwide phenomenon.

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Where did he learn about the fake news involving Comet? He said it was through word of mouth. After recently having internet service installed at his house, he was “really able to look into it.” He said that substantial evidence from a combination of sources had left him with the “impression something nefarious was happening.” He said one article on the subject led to another and then another.

He said he did not believe in conspiracy theories, but then added that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks needed to be re-examined. He has listened to Alex Jones, whose radio show traffics in conspiracy theories and who once said that Mrs. Clinton “has personally murdered and chopped up” children. “He’s a bit eccentric,” Mr. Welch said. “He touches on some issues that are viable but goes off the deep end on some things.”

“I regret how I handled the situation,” Welch told the Times.

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