The Latest: Pizzagate shooting suspect ordered held by judge

AP News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2016 6:25 PM
The Latest: Pizzagate shooting suspect ordered held by judge

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the arrest of a man who police say fired shots in a pizzeria while investigating a fake news story (all times local):

6 p.m.

A man who police say fired an assault rifle inside a pizzeria in the nation's capital while investigating a fake news story about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring has been ordered held until at least Thursday.

Presiding Magistrate Judge Joseph E. Beshouri ordered 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, jailed until a preliminary hearing and detention hearing set for 9 a.m. Thursday in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Welch was arrested after Sunday's shooting at Comet Ping Pong. No one was injured.

He appeared in handcuffs in court Thursday wearing a white, disposable jumpsuit used when authorities take a suspect's clothing as evidence. He was appointed a public defender who didn't immediately return requests for comment.

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4:20 p.m.

Court records show a man charged with a firing a rifle inside a pizzeria surrendered peacefully after he told authorities he failed to find evidence after fake online news stories said the eatery was secretly harboring child sex slaves.

Twenty-eight-year-old Edgar M. Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, was expected to make an initial court appearance Monday afternoon in the District of Columbia.

Police say he brought a rifle into the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in the nations' capital because he wanted to investigate rumors contained in fake online news reports claiming it was connected to a child sex trafficking ring supposedly run by Hillary Clinton.

The court document states Welch "surrendered peacefully when he found no evidence that underage children were being harbored in the restaurant."

In recent weeks, the so-called Pizzagate scandal has gained currency among some quarters in social media, fueled by the fake news stories distributed online.

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3 p.m.

The conspiracy theory involving a fake news story that links Hillary Clinton and a D.C. pizza shop to a child exploitation ring has at least one prominent adherent linked to President-elect Donald Trump's transition team.

Michael Flynn Jr. is an adviser to his father, Michael Flynn, whom Trump selected to serve as national security adviser.

Flynn Jr. has sent numerous posts on Twitter about the conspiracy theories of Pizzagate, a fake news story that suggests a pizza shop called Comet Ping Pong plays a key role in a child sex trafficking ring run by Clinton.

Police say the conspiracy theory led to violence Sunday when a North Carolina man fired a rifle in the restaurant as he sought to investigate the accusations. No one was injured, and the man was arrested.

Flynn Jr., who has accompanied his father to presidential transition meetings inside Trump Tower and lists the presidential transition website as part of his Twitter bio, tweeted Sunday night that, "Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story."

Trump's team had no immediate response to questions about the conspiracy theory or the younger Flynn's role in the presidential transition.

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2 p.m.

The bizarre conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate that police say led to a nonfatal shooting at a pizza shop in the nation's capital has affected several area businesses.

Politics and Prose is an independent bookstore a few doors down from Comet Ping Pong, where a North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after police say he fired a rifle while trying to investigate a fake news story about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring.

Bookstore co-owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine said that while Comet Ping Pong has found itself at the center of the conspiracy theory, the bookstore and other businesses on the block also received threats and menacing phone calls in recent weeks.

Graham said the store has taken the threats seriously, reporting them to police. He expressed frustration that police seemed uninterested before Sunday's shooting in investigating more thoroughly.

Politics and Prose was open for business Monday; Comet Ping Pong was closed through Monday afternoon, as it normally is. Neighbors brought flowers and cards to the restaurant storefront saying "We support Comet" and "we love you and stand by you."

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12 p.m.

Authorities say a man who fired a rifle inside a pizzeria in the nation's capital while investigating a fake news story about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring is expected to appear in court Monday afternoon.

Police say 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, was arrested after Sunday's incident at Comet Ping Pong. No one was injured and he was arrested afterward.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, says Welch is expected to make his first appearance in court sometime after 1 p.m. Monday.

It was unclear how long it might take before Welch's case is heard.

An incident report lists a Colt AR-15 rifle, a Colt .38 handgun, a shotgun and a folding knife among the items seized in the case. Welch is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, other weapons offenses and destruction of property.

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9:35 a.m.

Police say a man investigating a fake news story about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizzeria had an AR-15 rifle and a handgun when he was arrested after firing inside the restaurant.

Police said in a statement that 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, was arrested Sunday at Comet Ping Pong. No one was injured.

Police spokeswoman Karimah Bilal says rounds were fired, possibly striking the walls, door and a computer.

Police say Welch told police he'd come to the restaurant to investigate reports that spread online during Clinton's unsuccessful run for the White House. Police have called those reports a "fictitious online conspiracy theory."

An incident report lists a Colt AR-15 rifle, a Colt .38 handgun, a shotgun and a folding knife among the items seized. Welch is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, other weapons offenses and destruction of property.

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4:10 a.m.

Police say a man who said he was investigating a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a pizza place fired an assault rifle inside the Washington, D.C., restaurant Sunday.

Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Aquita (ah-KWEE'-tah) Brown says police got a call Sunday afternoon about a male with a weapon on Connecticut Avenue, in an affluent neighborhood of the nation's capital.

The Washington Post reports 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch of Salisbury, North Carolina, walked into the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a gun in the direction of a restaurant employee.

The employee was able to flee and notify police.

According to a police statement, Welch told police he'd come to the restaurant to "self-investigate" a fictitious conspiracy theory that spread online during Clinton's run for the White House.