By ISAAC MONTEROSE
Police arrested a 28-year-old North Carolina man in Washington on Sunday after he allegedly pointed a firearm at an employee of Comet Ping Pong, a local restaurant that was the subject of fake news reports about a purported sex trafficking ring.
After receiving a call at 2:58 p.m., police arrived and arrested Welch without incident and said they recovered two firearms inside the establishment. They also recovered another firearm from the suspect’s vehicle. No one was hurt.
According to a press release, police say that the suspect told them that he came to the pizza restaurant to investigate “Pizza Gate,” which the police described as a “fictitious online conspiracy theory.”
“Pizza Gate” is a debunked conspiracy theory claiming that the Comet restaurant was involved in a pedophile sex trafficking ring with Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, the former chairman of her 2016 presidential campaign. Although repeatedly proven untrue, the conspiracy theory is still pushed in online communities connected to the white supremacist movement.
“Tonight, we are deeply grateful to the local law enforcement officers who responded swiftly to our call,” James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, said in a statement. “Thanks to their good work, I am confident that we will continue to operate safely and securely, as we have for the past decade.” He said the allegations that his restaurant was involved in a pedophile sex trafficking ring were “malicious” and “utterly false.”
“What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences,” he 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.”
According to police, the shooting is under investigation. They ask that anyone who may have information regarding the shooting call them at 202-727-9099. The police can also be reached via a text tip line by messaging 50411.