Assault Man fires rifle inside Washington 'pizzagate' eatery

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Internet rumours that swirled around a pizza restaurant in Washington became a shocking case study in the dangers of the growing prevalence of "fake news" play

Internet rumours that swirled around a pizza restaurant in Washington became a shocking case study in the dangers of the growing prevalence of "fake news"

(GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

A man has been arrested after firing an assault rifle inside a popular pizzeria in Washington that was the target of a fake news story during the presidential election campaign, police said.

No one was injured in the incident on Sunday at the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in the upmarket Chevy Chase neighborhood. A 28-year-old man from North Carolina was taken into police custody.

The pizzeria was the subject of a bogus report published in October that alleged it was at the center of a child sex ring organized by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

As the story spread online, fanned by right-leaning conspiracy theorists on discussion sites 4chan and Reddit, the restaurant owner received hundreds of threatening messages on his Instagram account.

The eatery's Facebook page also was flooded with negative comments.

It was one of a number of fake news stories that emerged ahead of the November 8 poll.

The man arrested on Sunday told police he went to the eatery to "self-investigate" the conspiracy theory dubbed "pizzagate".

He allegedly walked into the restaurant and pointed the rifle at an employee, who fled and alerted authorities, police said, before later firing the weapon.

He has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

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