NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — A pizzeria in Bushwick, Brooklyn has become the latest victim of a fake-news conspiracy about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring from a Washington, D.C., pizza joint.
Police confirmed Roberta’s has received telephone calls threatening its employees.
The restaurant is known for its wood-fired pizza. A call to the restaurant Wednesday night went unanswered.
The threatening calls came after social-media users connected the restaurant to the Pizzagate hoax centered on the Washington D.C. restaurant Comet Ping Pong. One caller referenced an email from Clinton’s private server and noted the Clintons attended a donor’s birthday party at Roberta’s years ago.
Police said the hoax took a dangerous turn Sunday when Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, fired a rifle inside Comet Ping Pong while trying to “self-investigate” the conspiracy. Court records show the man says he found no evidence supporting the fake story.
The bizarre rumors about the pizza joint began with a leaked email referencing Clinton and pizza parties. It morphed into fake online news stories about a child sex trafficking ring operating out of the restaurant.
According to court documents, Welch told officers that he had “read online that the Comet restaurant was harboring child sex slaves and that he wanted to see for himself if they were there. He stated that he was armed to help rescue them. He surrendered peacefully when he found no evidence that underage children were being harbored in the restaurant.”
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.
The shooting alarmed those from neighboring businesses all the way to the White House about the real-life dangers of fake news on the internet. One of those people posting on the conspiracy theory is the son of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed national security adviser.
The fake news stories alleging that Clinton and her campaign chief, John Podesta, ran a child sex ring out of the restaurant have been denounced by the owner of the popular pizza restaurant.
“We should all condemn the efforts of certain people to spread malicious and utterly false accusations about Comet Ping Pong,” owner James Alefantis said earlier this week. “Let me state unequivocally: These stories are completely and entirely false, and there is no basis in fact to any of them. What happened today demonstrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences.”
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