- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 4, 2016

D.C. police quickly apprehended Sunday a North Carolina man with a rifle who walked into the Comet Ping Pong restaurant on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest seeking to investigate a debunked internet conspiracy theory.

Just before 3 p.m. members of the Second District received a call for a man with a firearm. The suspect, later revealed to be 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, entered Comet Ping Pong and pointed a gun in the direction of one of the restaurant’s employees.

Welch fired the rifle, but no one was hurt. The employee was able to flee and notify police, who apprehended Welch without incident. Two other firearms were recovered inside the popular eatery and another weapon was recovered from his car.

Police said during a post arrest interview Sunday night, the suspect revealed that he came to the establishment to self-investigate “Pizza Gate,” which investigators described as “a fictitious online conspiracy theory.’

The Friendship Heights pizza restaurant has faced harassment and negative attention due to conspiracy theories alleging the restaurant is the site of child trafficking ring and is in cahoots with Hillary Clinton and her top campaign staffers. Conspiracy theorists have used the hashtag #PizzaGate to promote the hoax.

The false rumors emerged during the presidential election after the release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was shown to have emailed James Alefantis, the restaurant’s owner, about a fundraiser.

“From this insane, fabricated conspiracy theory, we’ve come under constant assault,” Mr. Alefantis told The New York Times last month.

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