Cops arrested a 28-year-old man from North Carolina after he opened fire inside Comet Ping Pong, a Washington D.C. pizza restaurant named in a Hillary Clinton fringe theory.
Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, told police on Sunday afternoon he decided to “self-investigate” whether the so-called “Pizza Gate” conspiracy theory was true — that Clinton and her campaign chief were operating a child sex ring in the restaurant’s back room.
He stormed the restaurant — going straight for the maligned back room — while brandishing an assault rifle along Connecticut Ave NW near Fessenden St. NW around 3 p.m., police said. He pointed the gun at an employee at some point, cops said, and then fired at least one shot after patrons with children and employees scattered for safety.
No one was injured during the incident.
Officials with Metropolitan Police said two firearms were found with Welch during his surrender in the street. He now faces an assault charge in the brazen stunt inspired by the fictitious conspiracy theory spawned on Reddit.
Restaurant owner James Alefantis thanked police for capturing the suspect after a frantic 911 call and then condemned “certain people” for trying to “spread malicious and utterly false accusations about Comet Ping Pong.”
“What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences,” Alefantis wrote in a statement. “I hope that those involved in fanning those flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away.”
Leading up to the November election, Alefantis said he and his 40 employees were inundated with death threats on social media inspired by a bizarre Reddit post.
Conspiracists claimed leaked emails obtained by Wikileaks from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s inbox suggested that the pizzeria was a lair for child abusers. Last month, Reddit banned the so-called “pizzagate” topic.
Even Michael Flynn Jr., the son of President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser pick, fueled the erroneous report.
“Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story,” wrote Flynn Jr., the son of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. “The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many ‘coincidences’ tied to it.”
Alefantis defended his restaurant in a New York Times interview on Nov. 21 and said he had never met the former Secretary of State and was not under investigation for an alleged human trafficking plot.
“I’ve done nothing for days but try to clean this up and protect my staff and friends from being terrorized,” Alefantis told the Times.
It’s unclear if Welch traveled to D.C. from North Carolina with the intention of menacing the pizzeria.
In October, police investigated Welch after he struck a 13-year-old boy with his car in Salisbury. He pulled over a block away from the collision and stayed at the scene, according to the Salisbury Post. No charges were filed.
The victim said in a Facebook post he was hospitalized for a month after the crash.