RELIGION

Aimless pizza shop gunman latched onto internet, religion

  • Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. (Sathi Soma via AP)

    Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. (Sathi Soma via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • The front door of Comet Ping Pong pizza shop, in Washington, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. A fake news story prompted a man to fire a rifle inside a popular Washington, D.C., pizza place as he attempted to "self-investigate" a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring from there, police said.  ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

    The front door of Comet Ping Pong pizza shop, in Washington, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. A fake news story prompted a man to fire a rifle inside a popular Washington, D.C., pizza place as he attempted to "self-investigate" a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring from there, police said. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. (Sathi Soma via AP)

    Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. (Sathi Soma via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Before he was charged with firing an assault rifle inside a Washington restaurant, where he had been drawn by an online hoax, Edgar Maddison Welch was known as a well-meaning father of two girls.

But acquaintances also say he unnerved some with his religious fervor and sometimes had trouble detaching himself from the internet.

Police say he came to the pizza restaurant Sunday on a self-imposed mission to investigate a false account of a child sex ring that had spread through fake internet news stories.

For years, he had appeared to lead an aimless life of things left unfinished: jobs, college and even marriage. Along the way, he was convicted of drunken driving and minor drug charges.

And in the weeks before his Washington arrest, there were signs of turbulence.