"The real-life consequences of a made-up conspiracy theory swirling around a popular D.C. pizzeria became all too real when a gunman walked into the venue Sunday afternoon.
During the presidential campaign, some elements of the alt-right began fueling the conspiracy that Comet Ping Pong was in fact the site of a pedophilia ring used by high-ranking members of the Democratic Party, deeming that supposed conspiracy “Pizzagate.”
The D.C. Police Department arrested 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, outside the kid-friendly pizza and music venue. Witnesses say that Welch went through the restaurant carrying the gun and tried to enter a staff area in the back of the building. He reportedly fired multiple shots inside, though no one was injured. He reportedly told the police that he’d come to “self-investigate ‘Pizza Gate,” which the department noted is “a fictitious online conspiracy theory.”
The conspiracy is untrue and easily disprovable. For example, the sex ring is supposed to be run out of the restaurant’s basement, but the owner told the BBC, “We don’t even have a basement.”
The fake news became so prominent that even retired Gen. Michael Flynn, whom Donald Trump has chosen to be his national security adviser, shared the story on his Twitter account.