Suspect charged for setting fire to "Pizzagate" restaurant

/ CBS News

A man has been charged with setting fire in January to a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant that had been at the center of the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. Ryan "Rimas" Jaselskis, 22, was arrested and charged with federal arson after authorities said he set fire to Comet Ping Pong restaurant, according to court documents obtained Thursday by CBS Washington, D.C. affiliate WUSA-9.

According to the court documents, a D.C. police camera caught Jaselskis walking out of the restaurant and crossing the street around the time of the incident. A witness also identified him as the suspect leaving the restuarant. Authorities said his vehicle was later seen leaving the area.

U.S. Park Police said Jaselskis was also arrested after allegedly jumping the security fence around the Washington Monument twice the following week on Feb. 4 and 5, according to court documents. He was charged with assault on a police officer and unlawful entry.

Police said he returned the next day and was arrested again. During both incidents, police said the Jaselskis was wearing a blue jacket with red trim and white sleeves. It appeared to be the same outfit the Comet Ping Pong arson suspect wore during the fire.

Surveillence footage captures Comet Ping Pong Arson suspect. ATF via WUSA-9

Court documents allege the Jan. 23 fire was set by lighter fluid. There was no motive given. But NBC News reported Thursday that a now-deleted video posted to Jaselskis' parents' YouTube account the night of the arson alleged the world is run by a Satanic global pedophile ring fronted by major celebrities and Hillary Clinton, which is similar to the conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate.

Conspirarcy theorists falsely believed Bill and Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager ran a child sex ring out of the Comet Ping Pong's basement, although the restaurant does not even have a basement. Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis said in 2016 that he suspected the story simply emerged because he and a friend supported the Clinton campaign.

As a result, the restaurant has faced thousands of threats and in Dec. 2016, a man who said he was investigating the child sex ring opened fire at the restaurant. No one was injured in the shooting.

First published on February 14, 2019

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