Pizzeria taken hostage by Salisbury gunman raising funds for more security

The Washington DC pizzeria that was taken hostage Sunday by a Salisbury man armed with an assault rifle has launched a crowd funding campaign to improve its security, including hiring guards.

Comet Ping Pong launched the GoFundMe effort Thursday with a $28,000 goal. As of Friday morning, it had raised $7,700 from 229 donors.

The Sunday afternoon takeover of the restaurant by Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury has come to highlight the troubles that have resulted from fake news stories planted during the presidential campaign. The hoax story suggested Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign operated a sex ring out of the site’s basement.

Welch claimed he was trying to “self investigate” the story when he walked into the front door of the Comet Ping Pong 3 p.m. Sunday with AR-15 assault rifle. Court documents say he fired the rifle multiple times inside the restaurant.

Police say Welch told them he had read online that the Comet restaurant was “harboring child sex slaves” and he wanted to investigate, reported the New York Times. He said he surrendered when he found no signs of children being held. Welch faces charges including assault with a dangerous weapon.

Comet Ping Pong said the GoFundMe account was set up in response to Welch’s assault, as well as other threats made against the restaurant as a result of the hoax story, which has come to be called “pizzagate.”

“We realize we could use support. We have been hit with immediate expenses that do not fit into our usual small restaurant model,” said a statement on the GoFundMe account.

Money raised from the account will be used to cover lost wages for the staff due to Welch’s interruption of business, as well as the cost of security upgrades, hired security staff and repairs caused when Welch fired his rifle.

Welch recently told the New York Times that he regrets how he handled the situation, but refused to completely dismiss the false online claims involving a child sex ring that brought him there.