Man Fires Assault Rifle in Pizzeria Named in Fake-News Conspiracy
A man investigating a conspiracy theory fired an assault rifle inside pizzeria.
— -- Authorities arrested a man on Sunday who fired an assault rifle inside a popular Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant that has become a target after being featured in a fake news story.
Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, entered Comet Ping Pong in northwestern D.C. on Sunday afternoon wielding an assault rifle — sending patrons fleeing from the popular pizza joint — and fired one shot, according to police.
The restaurant was featured in a made-up news story circulated online during the presidential election season.
Welch told authorities he entered the establishment to “self-investigate” a spurious theory in the story that involves Hillary Clinton.
D.C. Metro Police in a statement referred to the story as “a fictitious online conspiracy theory,” but that hasn’t stopped believers from harassing the business and its patrons online and in person.
According to police, Welch entered the restaurant around 3 p.m. and pointed a gun in the direction of an employee. That employee was able to flee and call police, who arrived shortly thereafter and arrested Welch without incident.
Welch discharged his firearm one time. There were no reports of injuries, police said.
Police found two weapons on Welch and another in his vehicle. Welch has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
“What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences,” Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis said in a statement on Sunday.
"I really hope that all these people fanning the flames of this conspiracy theory would take a moment to contemplate what has gone on today and maybe to stop,” he told WJLA, an ABC affiliate.