'Stand With Comet': Pizzeria Sees Outpouring of Support After Fake News Shooting - NBC4 Washington

'Stand With Comet': Pizzeria Sees Outpouring of Support After Fake News Shooting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Community Rallies Around Comet Ping Pong After Attack

    Two days after a gunman opened fire inside a neighborhood pizzeria, neighbors are expressing their support. News4's Meagan Fitzgerald reports from outside Comet Ping Pong. (Published Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016)

    Days after a gunman opened fire inside a D.C. pizzeria because he reportedly believed a fake news story, scores of people say they will support the small business.

    More than 1,500 people said on Facebook as of Tuesday afternoon that they would patronize Comet Ping Pong on Friday.

    "Let's defeat ignorance and terrorism one slice at a time!" one Facebook user said.

    Online attacks against the restaurant sparked a real-life shooting on Sunday afternoon, when a 28-year-old North Carolina man walked in with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, police said.

    Witnesses told investigators the man fired three shots with the rifle and pointed it an employee. No one was hurt.

    D.C. police arrested Edgar Maddison Welch after a 45-minute standoff.

    He was charged with assault and weapons charges, and reportedly told police he had come to the restaurant to "self-investigate" the "pizzagate" conspiracy theory.

    The false conspiracy theory holds that Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff run a child sex ring from the back rooms of the restaurant.

    D.C. police previously said they were aware of threats made against the pizzeria. Owner James Alefantis previously said he had received hundreds of death threats, including one message that said "I will kill you personally."

    Police were patrolling the area Tuesday.

    The Facebook event #StandWithComet calls for pizza-lovers to patronize the family-friendly restaurant with ping pong tables anytime Friday, when it is expected to be open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

    On Tuesday, notes of support for Comet hung outside the restaurant. And Twitter users urged people to patronize the business.

    Businesses on the same block, including Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, also have been the target of online harassment and hostile phone calls.

    Manager Michael Triebasser said he was happy to receive phone calls of support as well.

    "They called us a beacon of light in the darkness. You take those -- it's just a great thing to say," he said, drawing his hand to his chest.

    Alefantis said Sunday, after the shooting, that the good wishes were important to him and his staff.

    "We are heartened by the support and loyalty of our customers and our community," he said in a statement.