Man opens fire at DC pizzeria over fake news story
The armed Salisbury man who caused a panic in Washington DC for trying to “self-investigate” a conspiracy involving Hillary Clinton has an arrest record for drug and alcohol offenses.
Washington DC police said Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, walked into the front door of the Comet Ping Pong restaurant Sunday and pointed an assault rifle in the direction of a restaurant employee, according to the Washington Post. The employee escaped, but Welch allegedly fired the rifle while inside, officials said.
Welch, who is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, told police he was there to “self-investigate” a conspiracy which likely involved internet rumors that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign operated a sex ring out of the site’s basement. The hoax conspiracy, known as “pizzagate,” is a fake news story that emerged during the presidential election.
On Sunday, he reportedly surrendered to police by walking backward out into the street with his hands in the air.
North Carolina arrest records for an Edgar Maddison Welch date back to 2007, and include charges of possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana, possession of controlled substances, driving after consuming alcohol and driving with an open container of alcohol. He plead guilty on the alcohol and drug charges.
In October, Welch is alleged to have struck a 13-year-old with a car on Harrison Road in Salisbury, according to a WBTV story. He stayed at the scene, it was reported. Officials said the victim suffered head, torso and leg injuries.
Reports emerged late Sunday that Welch might be a struggling actor, with a resume that includes a half dozen minor jobs on film productions, including being an extra and production assistant.
The Comet Ping Pong in the Chevy Chase neighborhood has been swept up in the onslaught of the fake news story, reports the Washington Post. The restaurant, its owner, staff and nearby businesses have been attacked on social media and received death threats, reports the Post.
The owner of Comet Ping Pong, James Alefantis, released a statement that said, in part, “What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences.”
When the attack happened Sunday, startled patrons reportedly rushed out of the restaurant, taking shelter in nearby businesses that remained locked down for more than an hour.
Police told the Washington Post they recovered both an assault rifle and a handgun, and that Welch may have had an additional weapon in his car.