WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) — A North Carolina man was arrested in Washington, D.C., Sunday after he walked into a popular pizza shop, carrying an assault rifle, intending to investigate an outlandish conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton during the presidential election.
Edgar Maddison Welch entered Comet Ping Pong Sunday afternoon intending to investigate the “Pizzagate” child sex ring conspiracy, pointed his gun at an employee and apparently fired it into the ground before police arrested him. Nobody was injured and Welch was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
Comet Ping Pong has been deluged with visitors who want to check out the baseless “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, which posits that Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, are involved in a child sex trafficking ring.
“They putting a lot of curses and spells over the city,” a woman who declined to give her name told WUSA-TV in November. “All this underground tunnel that helps them take the kids and transport them back and forth so they can do these rituals.”
Putting aside that the rumor is not based on anything factual, but was nonetheless pushed by several conspiracy-minded media outlets and spawned a since-shuttered channel on Reddit, the restaurant has been pounded with threats and unsubstantiated stories about trafficking there for weeks.
The restaurant’s owners and employees are baffled at the abuse they’ve dealt with, said Comet owner James Alefantis, if for no other reason than the restaurant does not have a basement — which pokes a large hole in the conspiracy theory.
The restaurants’ owners supported Clinton during the presidential election, which they think may have played a role in the development of the conspiracy, considering even those close to President-elect Donald Trump have half-bought into the rumor.
“What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences,” Alefantis said. “I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away.”