By JESSICA SCHLADEBECK | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Comet Ping Pong, the D.C. restaurant at the center of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, was intentionally set ablaze this week and authorities are still searching for a suspect.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a tweet Friday said authorities are looking for a “white male” between 25 and 30 years old “with blonde hair, mustache and a beard” for questioning in connection with the fire.
The flames broke out at the Washington pizzeria just after 9 p.m. on Wednesday. When first responders arrived on the scene, they learned no one was injured in the incident and that employees were able to quickly put out the blaze
ATF is seeking the pictured suspect for questioning about the January 23, 2019 arson at Comet Pizza, 5037 Connecticut Ave NW. If you have any information contact 1-888-ATF-FIRE. pic.twitter.com/KJd9FqZQt0
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) January 25, 2019
According to a police report obtained by the Washington Post, investigators found several burned matches on the floor beneath curtains in the backroom where the fire started. They also discovered an open box of matches and a partially full bottle of lighter fluid on a nearby table.
The curtains were completely destroyed despite an employee’s quick use of a fire extinguisher, police noted.
The D.C. eatery, which combines pizza and ping pong tables, was thrust into the national spotlight in 2016 when it became the subject of a viral internet rumor being passed around alt-right forums and message boards. The “Pizzagate” theory suggested without any evidence the restaurant’s owner allowed for Bill and Hillary Clinton and her former campaign manager, John Podesta, to run a child sex ring out of the basement.
The same year, Comet Ping Pong was targeted by North Carolina man Edgar Maddison Welch, who showed up at the pizza place armed with a fully loaded AR-15 military style rifle, demanding to investigate the conspiracy theory.
Welch in 2017 pleaded guilty to assault and a federal firearms charge and a judge sentenced him to four years behind bars.
Authorities do not believe the suspect wanted in connection with the arson allegations has ties to Welch. Comet’s owner, James Alefantis, echoed the sentiment, telling the Post that the confrontation involving Welch was “years ago.”