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Pizzagate: Gunman fires in restaurant at centre of conspiracy

Police secure the scene near Comet Ping Pong in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Image copyright AP

A man has been arrested after firing a rifle inside a pizza restaurant in Washington that was the target of a bizarre fake US election story.

No-one was injured in the incident at Comet Ping Pong, police said.

A 28-year-old man from North Carolina was taken into police custody.

The pizzeria has been targeted by conspiracy theorists who believe it is involved in a child sex ring run by former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and aide John Podesta.

The man arrested on Sunday told police he went to the restaurant to “self-investigate” the theory, dubbed “pizzagate“.


Explained: Pizzagate and the spread of fake news


The suspect allegedly walked into the restaurant and pointed the rifle at an employee, who managed to flee. He later fired the weapon.

He has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Image copyright AP

The “pizzagate” theory originated on alternative message board 4chan, based on emails hacked from the Democratic Party and leaked by Wikileaks.

The restaurant’s owner, James Alefantis, a Democratic Party donor, appears in the emails in relation to organising a Democratic fundraiser.

Users of 4chan and another message board Reddit claimed that words in the emails, such as cheese, hot dog, and pizza, were code for young children and sex acts.

The bizarre and unfounded theory has been spread online by right-wing blogs such as Infowars, which is run by Donald Trump supporter Alex Jones.

Mr Jones, a conspiracy theorist and talk radio host, said Mr Trump called him the day after the election to thank him and his followers.

The theory was also pushed online by Michael Flynn Jr, son of General Michael Flynn, Mr Trump’s choice for national security adviser.

Mr Alefantis, the owner of Comet Pizza, has received hundreds of threatening messages on Instagram and Facebook.

There have also been protests outside the eatery.

The conspiracy theory was one of a number of fake news stories related to the US election that have spread both before and after the poll.


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