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Family members noticed a change in the man charged with firing an assault rifle in a Washington pizza parlor after he hit a 13-year-old pedestrian with his car in October, his parents said.

Edgar Maddison Welch shifted from energetic and outgoing to melancholy and quiet, Terri Welch and Harry Welch Jr. told The Washington Post at their son's public defender's office Monday.

"He was very traumatized. We feel that accident changed him," Harry Welch said, and his wife said they have wondered whether it could have been a catalyst for the incident at Comet Ping Pong.

Police and prosecutors say that on Dec. 4, Maddison Welch went into the restaurant and fired an AR-15 rifle multiple times inside. No one was hurt.

He told police "he had read online that the Comet restaurant was harboring child sex slaves," and he wanted to investigate, according to court documents.

The couple from North Carolina was in town to attend a Tuesday court hearing for their son, whom they have not spoken with since the shooting. The 28-year-old Welch, of Salisbury, North Carolina, has been in jail since the shooting. He faces charges including assault with a dangerous weapon.

Harry Welch said his son felt guilty after the crash and worried about the long-term effects for the child, who had to be airlifted to a hospital with broken bones and a head injury. His parents said Maddison Welch began having nightmares but did not to seek help.


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