Police arrested a gunman armed with an assault weapon at a Washington, D.C. restaurant named in a fake pro-Trump news story that spread online.
The Washington Post said no shots were fired and no one was injured at Comet Ping Pong, a Northwest Washington pizza restaurant with ping pong tables that are popular with families.
A phony online news story that circulated days before the Nov. 8 election said that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and a top campaign aide were running a child sex ring out of the back room at Comet Ping Pong.
The story was one of many canards floated by pro-Trump propaganda mills. Not a word of it was true, but the restaurant's employees and their families have been receiving death threats and other forms of harassment since the phony story circulated, which is known in right-wing conspiracy circles as "#Pizzagate."
Comet Ping Pong's owners contacted the FBI, the local police, Facebook and other agencies in an attempt to get the defamatory post taken down.
Gareth Wade, 47, and Doug Clarke, 50 told the Post that they were inside the restaurant when a commotion erupted.
"(T)he server said someone just walked in with a shotgun," said Wade.
They quickly ducked out of the restaurant and attempted to go to the bookstore across the street, but were prevented from entering by police, who were turned out in force.
D.C. police spokeswoman Aquita Brown said that the department received a call about a man with a weapon at the restaurant at around 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Social media users picked up the story as it spread:
There's a gunman at #comet pizza restaurant right now in #DC— Wearing Robes Outside Like A Pope (@Wearing Robes Outside Like A Pope) 1480882566.0
MAN W/RIFLE AT COMET PIZZA, Connecticut Av and Nebraska Av NW-DC. MPD surrounding restaurant and may be calling SWAT-ERT.— Alan Henney (@Alan Henney) 1480881894.0
u/d MAN w/RIFLE IN COMET PINGPONG, 5037 Ct Av- Man rpt'd inside rear room of Comet. SWAT-ERT en rte to cmd post at firehouse. Roads CLOSED.— Alan Henney (@Alan Henney) 1480882649.0
Police Activity: Connecticut Ave between Fessenden St and Nebraska St NW Closed in both Directions. Please seek alternate route. // 10735— DC Police Department (@DC Police Department) 1480883030.0
Latest on arrest of armed man at Comet ping pong at 6 with @DerrickWard4 Restaurant tied to conspiracy theory https://t.co/lTQvxtBRvn— Darcy Spencer (@Darcy Spencer) 1480888929.0
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