A North Carolina man has been arrested after charging into a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant with a rifle to investigate an internet conspiracy theory.
The incident occurred Dec. 4 at around 3 p.m. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, had entered Comet Ping Pong restaurant and pointed a rifle in the direction of one of the employees, The Washington Times reported.
Welch fired the gun, but did not strike or injure anyone. One of the employees fled the restaurant and called the police. When authorities arrived, they confiscated two other firearms -- one of the weapons was located inside the restaurant, and the other was found in Welch's car.
Law enforcement officials said Welch went to Comet Ping Pong restaurant to self-investigate "Pizza Gate," a conspiracy theory that alleges former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran a child sex abuse ring inside the restaurant.
The conspiracy theory began circulating after the release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, according to reports. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta had allegedly emailed the restaurant's owner, James Alefantis, about a fundraiser.
Investigators described the hoax as “a fictitious online conspiracy theory." Still, the restaurant was subject to frequent harassment due to the rumors, with several conspiracy theorists using the hashtag #PizzaGate to promote the story.
“From this insane, fabricated conspiracy theory, we’ve come under constant assault,” Alefantis told The New York Times in November.
Some of the rumors alleged that children were kidnapped and kept in the restaurant's back rooms. There were also claims that children were being molested in secret basement tunnels.
"What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences," Alefantis said in a statement. "I hope that those involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away."
There is no evidence of any of the alleged abuse at the restaurant. No victims have come forward, and the restaurant denies having a basement or any hidden rooms.
Welch has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, the Daily Mail reported.