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Cops: Guy Investigating 'PizzaGate' Fired Shot in DC Eatery

Conspiracy theorists think restaurant is HQ of Clinton sex trafficking ring
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2016 2:11 AM CST

(Newser) – Fake news has real consequences, the owner of Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, said after a man who claimed to be investigating the "PizzaGate" conspiracy theory allegedly fired at least one shot inside the establishment Sunday afternoon. The Washington Post reports that North Carolina man Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, was arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after the incident, which brought a heavy police response to the northwest DC neighborhood. Cops say Welch said he was "self-investigating" PizzaGate, a theory that has flourished in some of the internet's weirder corners. It claims Hillary Clinton and aides, including John Podesta, have been running a child sex trafficking ring from the eatery.

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Witnesses say Welch walked into the restaurant and pointed an assault rifle at an employee, NBC Washington reports. Police believe he fired at least one shot after all workers and customers had fled. The Post reports that in the weeks after the election, the restaurant's owner and employees received death threats on social media as the PizzaGate theory—which was largely based on mentions of pizza in Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks—spread online. "Let me state unequivocally: These stories are completely and entirely false, and there is no basis in fact to any of them," owner James Alefantis said in a statement, per the AP. "What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences." (Reddit's CEO edited abusive posts after the PizzaGate-related page was shut down.)

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