Man Motivated by Fake News Story Brings Rifle to Washington Pizzeria
A suspect was arrested Sunday, December 4 after he entered a Washington D.C. pizzeria brandishing a rifle. Later, in a post-arrest interview, the suspect admitted he had come to the pizzeria to investigate “Pizza Gate.”
The suspect, who police have identified the suspect as 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, entered the restaurant and allegedly pointed the rifle in the direction of an employee who was able to flee and contact the police. Patrons rushed out of the building while Welch moved further inside.
Several businesses around the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria were placed on lockdown as authorities arrived on the scene within minutes of the first call to police. They were able to quickly set up a perimeter and safely arrest Welch about 45 minutes after he first entered the restaurant.
Two firearms were recovered inside the restaurant, and an additional weapon was recovered from the suspect’s vehicle, police said. A D.C. police report specified that Welch had in his possession an AR-15 assault-style rifle, a Colt .38 caliber handgun and a shotgun. In addition to the guns, police seized a folding-knife, T-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt and denim blue jeans.
The popular pizzeria had been the subject of many online threats following a circulated fake news story that accused the owner of the restaurant, James Alefantis, of operating a child sex operation with Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta shortly before Election Day. While the owner has denied the accusations, the story continued to build online.
"What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences. 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," Alefantis told CNN.