Police: Fake news story led gunman to popular DC pizzeria

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. (Sathi Soma via AP)
Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Washington. Welch, who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place, fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said. (Sathi Soma via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A man who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place fired an assault rifle inside the Washington, D.C., restaurant on Sunday injuring no one, police and news reports said.

Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Aquita Brown said police received a call Sunday afternoon about a male with a weapon on Connecticut Avenue, in an affluent neighborhood of the nation’s capital.

Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, North Carolina, walked into the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee, the Washington Post reported.

The employee was able to flee and notify police. Welch then fired the gun into the floor.

Police responded and arrested Welch without incident. They recovered an assault rifle, Brown said. Welch was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Welch told police he’d come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” the fictitious online conspiracy theory that spread online during Clinton’s run for the White House, the police statement said.

Two firearms were recovered inside the restaurant and an additional weapon was recovered from the suspect’s vehicle, police said in a statement Sunday evening.

The Comet Ping Pong is in a neighborhood of well-tended private homes and apartment buildings on leafy streets that lead to a mix of shops, restaurants and the Politics and Prose book store. The restaurant gained notoriety during the presidential campaign after fake news stories stated Clinton and her campaign chief ran a child sex ring out of the restaurant, news organizations have reported.

The Comet, its owner, staff and nearby businesses were caught up in an onslaught of conspiracy theories and fake news during the often contentious presidential campaign and were subjected to social media attacks and death threats, the Post reported.

“For now, I will simply say that we should all condemn the efforts of certain people to spread malicious and utterly false accusations about Comet Ping Pong, a venerated DC institution,” owner James Alefantis said in a statement. “Let me state unequivocally: these stories are completely and entirely false, and there is no basis in fact to any of them. What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences.”