Comet Ping Pong gunman will be held until trial

July 22, 2024 | D.C.'s interim police chief on the impact of fake news (WTOP's Megan Cloherty report.)

WASHINGTON — The man indicted on charges of bringing an assault rifle into the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant and firing several shots will be held without bond until his trial.

Federal prosecutors had asked a magistrate judge to hold Edgar Maddison Welch until trial, after he allegedly terrorized customers in the Connecticut Avenue NW restaurant, on Dec. 4.

Welch, who was indicted Thursday on two D.C. gun offenses in addition to a federal count of interstate transportation of a firearm, was in U.S. District Court Friday morning for an arraignment and detention hearing.

Prosecutors had said Welch presents a danger and a risk of flight.

Prosecutors said evidence shows Welch acknowledged lives — including his own — could be lost as he investigated rumors children were being held captive at the restaurant in a sex-trafficking ring. The FBI has determined the rumors were groundless.

According to prosecutors, as Welch drove from North Carolina to Northwest D.C., he texted friends, asking them to take care of his family “if anything happens to” him.

Citing the seriousness of the crime in its argument that Welch should be held, prosecutors said he knowingly brought the rifle into the restaurant, “putting the fear of death into everyone inside.”

Prosecutors say the evidence against Welch “is very strong,” including “admissions to detectives in a video-recorded interview,” physical evidence from the gun and ammunition, and content recovered from Welch’s phone.

Dani Jahn, assistant federal public defender, told the judge the media had contacted Welch for an interview while in custody; the judge reminded him what he says can be used against him.

Welch could face up to 35 years if convicted.  He’s due back in court Jan. 5.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up