March 22, 2017 at 4:36 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Plea deal for Comet Pizza gunman set for Friday
Edgar Maddison Welch, Comet Ping Pong, gay news, Washington Blade

Edgar Maddison Welch (Photo via Facebook)

Details of a plea bargain agreement offered by prosecutors in January to the North Carolina man arrested in December for entering D.C.’s gay-owned Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant with an assault rifle are expected to be disclosed at a hearing in U.S. District Court on Friday, March 24.

District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson scheduled the plea hearing for Edgar Maddison Welch, 29, who told D.C. police he stormed into the restaurant on a busy Sunday afternoon to investigate whether a child sex ring linked to Hillary Clinton had been operating there.

Police said he surrendered peacefully after determining there were no signs of a child sex ring that he learned about from reading what authorities say were fake news stories posted online.

According to police, he fired his rifle at least three times inside the restaurant to break open the lock on a door after frightened customers and employees fled the premises when they saw him enter with the rifle strapped over his shoulder.

He has been charged with multiple federal and D.C. gun-related offenses in connection with the Comet Pizza case.

Comet Ping Pong, which is owned by gay businessman James Alefantis, became the target of harassing phone calls and death threats after the fake stories linking it to a pedophile ring were posted on social media outlets and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

Prosecutors announced they had offered Welch a plea deal during a court hearing in January. But prosecutors and Welch’s defense attorney declined at that time to disclose the terms of the offer, which was not entered into the public court records.

Friday’s plea hearing was scheduled to be held at 9:30 a.m. at U.S. District Court in D.C.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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