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Police: Man takes assault rifle to D.C. restaurant, while investigating conspiracy theory

Police: Man with assault rifle arrested in Northwest DC, none injured (Photo: Sharif Silmi)

As customers were enjoying their visit to Comet Ping Pong, witnesses tell ABC7 news that a man walked in with an assault rifle.

The suspect has been identified as 28-year-old Edgar Welch, from Salisbury, North Carolina.

“One of the hosts runs up and was like, did you see that guy, he had a gun,” said Lee Elmore, “He didn’t make eye contact with anybody. He didn’t ask for any help.”

Across the street, at the restaurant ‘Banana Leaf’, Sathi Soma started noticing a large police presence.

“The first couple of police officers had their guns drawn…and they standing behind cars and taking aim…they seemed to be talking to the suspect and after a while, the suspect came out,” said Soma.

“I’m very thankful to all the residents who called immediately,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser.

In a press conference, Chief Peter Newsham said it appeared the suspect Welsh fired at least one shot into the ground, while inside the restaurant.

Owner James Alefantis tells ABC7 news that none of those shots were fired, while employees or customers were inside. He tells us that that the shots were directed at a closet and a computer.

Welsh told police that he was there to investigate Pizza Gate, which is a hashtag used on social media.

It refers to a fake news article, which surfaced before the election. It claimed that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child trafficking ring in the restaurant’s back rooms.

"We've received many many calls....from around the world. We didn't expect anyone to come,” said Alefantis.

The restaurant will stay closed on Monday, as the FBI begins an investigation.

"I really hope that all these people fanning the flames of this conspiracy theory would take a moment to contemplate what has gone on today and maybe to stop,” said Alefantis.

Welch is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

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