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Pizzagate Gunman Faces Federal Charge

The man who fired a rifle inside a Washington, DC restaurant in early December, in pursuit of a bogus claim that children were endangered, was charged Tuesday with violating a federal gun law.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, appeared briefly in federal court to face the charges. The judge set a detention hearing for Friday.

Man fires gun in DC pizzeria while 'self-investigating' Pizzagate conspiracy 2:22

According to court documents, Welch had been contemplating a trip to the restaurant for at least three days, after reading and viewing claims that Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant, was the center of sex-trafficking ring with connections to influential Democrats.

Washington, D.C. police and the FBI have said the claims are totally false.

Investigators say Welch texted a friend that he was considering "raiding a pedo ring, possibly sacraficing [sic] the lives of a few for the lives of the many."

In the same text, according to court documents, he wrote, "The world is too afraid to act and I'm too stubborn not to."

Police say Welch drove to Washington on December 4 and entered the restaurant carrying an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, alarming customers and employees who ran out in fear. Investigators say he fired several rounds trying to blast open the door to a locked room which he later learned was unoccupied.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina who fired a rifle inside a Washington, DC restaurant in early December, in pursuit of a bogus claim that children were endangered, was charged Tuesday with violating a federal gun law. Art Lien / NBC News

Police say after he was arrested, Welch told them that he walked out of the restaurant and surrendered, leaving the guns behind, when he found no evidence of child sex trafficking.

The federal charge carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Welch's parents said he is a loving, responsible, and affectionate father to two young girls.

Harry and Terri Welch told the paper that their son was traumatized in early October when he hit a 13-year-old boy while driving to work. No charges were filed in the accident. The boy had broken bones and a head injury.

During Tuesday's brief court hearing, Welch told the judge he had no job. He was assigned a public defender.