Pizzagate gunman’s parents are pretty sure that he’s totally sorry

Harry and Terri Welch have broken their silence. The parents of Edgar Maddison Welch, last week’s suspect who commandeered Washington, D.C. pizzeria Comet Ping Pong with a rifle in search of theoretically kidnapped children, previously refused media requests, but they finally relented and spoke to The Washington Post in an attempt to tell the story of the son they know. The result is a mix of denial and proof that they were not as close to their son as they thought.

“We were stunned. And my heart just stopped and stomach just dropped,” Terri said on Monday, explaining that she and Harry had no knowledge of #Pizzagate before the incident. Refusing to otherwise say anything about guns or specifics of the case, the Welches kept up a bit with vague pronouncements. “I want people to know he’s not the monster he’s portrayed to be,” Terri asserted. “We want to dispel those misconceptions so people will really know our son.”

The Welches witnessed a personality shift in their son after a car accident back in October, where he hit a 13-year-old boy while driving to work. No charges were filed, but Welch’s parents say that he was racked with guilt, having nightmares and showing other signs of what Harry now believes were symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which went untreated. If the Pizzagate rifleman genuinely never showed warning signs, until recently, that may explain part of what happened. But WaPo’s reporting shows that there’s more to it.

“Interviews with friends and North Carolina court records suggest that Maddison Welch has had trouble with alcohol and drugs in the past,” according to reporters Keith L. Alexander and Susan Svrluga. When the Welches were asked about that, their lawyer provided a statement:

As far as we know, our son drinks alcohol socially. We are not aware of any problems with alcoholism or substance abuse presently or in the past.

The Welches also released a longer prepared statement for the media, one that comes off somewhat oblivious to the accusations leveraged against their son: “We are a family of rescuers and [our son] has been a part of that his entire life.” On one hand, that’s clarified to explain that they were referring to animal rescue efforts and taking in foster children. On the other, it’s not necessarily the message to put out there when your son used a gun to try to “rescue” children he thought were held captive in a pizzeria’s walk-in freezer because he read a conspiracy theory online.

[Washington Post | photo: Getty]