California man sentenced to 4 years in prison for Comet Ping Pong arson, assaulting an officer

A California man who started a fire in the Northwest D.C. restaurant Comet Ping Pong has been sentenced to four years in federal prison after he plead guilty to both that crime and assaulting a police officer.

Ryan Jaselskis, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of arson and one count of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer on Dec. 17, 2019.

He was sentenced Sunday, April 26, to four years in prison and three years of supervised release.

Security footage showed Jaselskis walking into Comet Ping Pong on the night of Jan. 23, 2019 carrying a bag with lighter fluid inside.

He then doused curtains inside the restaurant with the lighter fluid and set them on fire. As a customer at the restaurant and two employees worked to put out the fire, Jaselskis walked out of the building.

The restaurant workers and the customer managed to put out the fire before firefighters got to the scene. No one was injured and there was little damage done to the restaurant.

On Feb. 14, 2019, Jaselskis entered a fenced off are near the Washington Monument.

Officers from the United States Park police asked Jaselskis to stand, at which point he jumped up and fought the officers.

During the fight, he hit one of the officers in the nose, drawing blood. The officer was also cut on his hand and scraped his legs in the struggle. The officers were eventually able to detain Jaselskis.

This was not the first time that Comet Ping Pong has been targeted.

In December of 2016, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of North Carolina, walked into the pizza restaurant and fired an AR-15 while attempting to look into the debunked internet conspiracy known as “pizzagate.”

No one was injured in that incident and Welch was sentenced to four years in prison on June 22, 2017.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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