Gun brandished at DC pizzeria that was focus of fake news story in 2016 campaign
By Kevin Bohn, Daniel Allman and Greg Clary
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A suspect from Salisbury, North Carolina carrying an assault rifle is in custody after he allegedly walked inside a popular pizzeria in Washington DC Sunday afternoon, Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Aquita Brown told CNN.
DC Police have not released his name and said they do not have a motive.
No one was injured, police have said. Police have found at least one shell casing and are investigating whether the weapon was discharged, Brown told CNN. There is “some evidence the weapon was fired” into the ground, interim DC Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters.
While the motive is not known, the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong, its owner, James Alefantis and some employees of the restaurant were threatened last month after fake news reports — shortly before Election Day — charged Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta were involved in a child sex operation at the restaurant. The fake stories continued to proliferate online as Alefantis kept denying the charges.
Patrons inside the restaurant ran out when the suspect entered.
Eyewitness Sharif Silmi was at the restaurant with his wife and three children — ages 7,9 and 12, when the suspect walked in.
“He walked right past us holding a shotgun, when we realized what was going on we gathered our young ones and started moving toward the exit,” Silmi told CNN. “It was very swift, quick exit, everybody moved out very smoothly.”
Silmi, who lives in Maryland, told CNN he and his family are Muslim and that he blamed those who were spreading “false rumors [about Comet Ping Pong] online. They put our children’s lives in danger today.”
Silmi said he did not hear the man speak.
The suspect was later apprehended outside the restaurant.
The owner Alefantis refused to speak to reporters after leaving the restaurant. But he said, “Everybody’s safe.”
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