The Pizzagate conspiracy took a violent turn on Sunday when a man entered the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in northwest Washington, D.C., and discharged a rifle inside of the establishment, the New York Times reports.
Edgar M. Welch, 28, of Salisbury, N.C., told police that he came to the pizzeria to “self-investigate” what conspiracy theorists refer to as the Pizzagate scandal.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 5, 2016
The theory revolves around speculation that former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and other high-ranking Democrats are involved in a pedophile ring.
The allegations arose, primarily, from emails that were part of the trove of communiqués between Podesta and other campaign staff and associates that Wikileaks made public in weeks before the November 8th presidential election. Several of those emails contained references to pizza and other foods that many believe appear to be coded.
For instance, in a December 24, 2015, email from Herb Sandler of the Sandler Foundation to Podesta and his wife, Mary, Sandler asks, “Do you think I’ll do better playing dominos on cheese than on pasta?”
In an email from September 2, 2014, Susan Sandler, the wife of Herb Sandler, emails Podesta about a handkerchief she believes might be his.
“The realtor found a handkerchief (I think it has a map that seems pizza-related. Is it yorus? They can send it if you want. I know you’re busy, so feel free not to respond if it’s not yours or you don’t want it.”
Those perpetuating the Pizzagate conspiracy claim such emails do not make any sense in their give context and are instead using code words common among pedophiles to communicate about illicit activities.
Comet Ping Pong is supposedly at the center of the pedophile ring, if only because it serves pizza and has hosted some Clinton fundraisers.
Since rumors of the pedophile ring began circulating, the owner and employees of Comet Ping Pong have received dozens of anonymous threats via email and social media.
Then Welch entered the building with a rifle shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday and fired the gun at least once while inside, witnesses told the Times.
This is exactly why #FakeNews is so dangerous
— CaptainsLog2016 (@CaptainsLog2016) December 5, 2016
No one was injured from the gunfire, and Welch was promptly arrested. However, it has increased tensions at the pizzeria.
“What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences,” Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis said in a statement quoted by the Times. “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.”
It turns out that Welch had another recent run-in with law enforcement.
WBTV, a North Carolina television station, reported in late October that Welch struck a teen walking along the side of the road with his vehicle.
“We was walking down the road, just a normal walk, and this one car had the full road,” Sean Lankford, a friend who was walking with the victim at the time, told WBTV. “We was pretty much on the white line and he wiped out one of my friends and he had the whole road to turn into even the whole other lane, even in the same lane he could have avoided him.”
While Lankford did not outright accuse Welch of intentionally striking the victim, 13-year-old Kenyatta Belton, with his vehicle, his statement seems to hint at the possibility.
Belton, suffered “head, torso and leg injuries” and was flown to a local hospital, according to WBTV.
Slate reports that there may still be an ongoing investigation into the incident.
Sunday’s shooting is bound to keep Pizzagate in the news for days to come.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]