WASHINGTON — D.C. police have identified the man who was arrested after firing a gun inside of a restaurant Sunday afternoon in Northwest D.C.
Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, told police he went to Comet Ping Pong, a popular pizza place in the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue Northwest, to “self-investigate” the conspiracy theory generated by a fake online news story, D.C. police said in a news release Sunday night.
Comet Ping Pong was the target of the conspiracy theory that went viral before the election. The fake story claimed the pizza shop was home to child-trafficking, and that there was a connection between the pizzeria and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Initially, D.C. officials had said that while the motive for the incident was unclear, it wasn’t likely tied to the fake news story.
At around 3 p.m., police responded to reports of a man with a firearm at Comet Ping Pong. The suspect entered the restaurant and pointed his firearm in the direction of an employee, police said. The employee was able to escape and call police.
The suspect had ordered everyone out of the restaurant then fired his assault rifle inside before he was taken into custody. Two firearms were found inside the restaurant and an additional weapon was found inside Welch’s vehicle.
Welch was arrested and charged with assault with a dangerous weapon (gun), police said.
There were no reports of injuries. Police said the area was safe and that the incident had not been a terrorist situation.
Comet Ping Pong’s owner, James Alefantis, made a statement late Sunday night after the shooting, denying what he called “malicious and utterly false accusations.” He said that employees were getting the day off Monday, but hoped that operations would resume in a few days.
Alefantis added, “I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today and to stop right away.”
Police had blocked off a portion of Connecticut Avenue, mounting a heavy police presence. Nearby businesses were locked down for 90 minutes as officers secured the area.
Streets were reopened at around 6 p.m.
See a full report from WTOP’s television news partner, NBC Washington.
WTOP’s Teta Alim, Dick Uliano and Dave Dildine contributed to this report.