Federal prosecutors have charged a California man with starting a fire last month at Comet Ping Pong, the Washington pizzeria at the center of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
Police had been looking for the suspected arsonist since Jan. 23, when a man set a curtain at the pizzeria on fire with matches and lighter fluid. Comet Ping Pong has been the subject of conspiracy theories alleging that Hillary Clinton and other top Democratic officials conduct Satanic pedophile orgies in its non-existent basement.
Arson suspect Ryan Rimas Jaselskis, 22, came to police attention weeks after the fire, when he jumped the construction barrier surrounding the Washington Monument on Feb. 4, according to court filings. After two National Park Police officers tried to arrest him, Jaselskis started fighting them, giving one officer a bloody nose in a brawl that was captured on video.
After being released from jail, Jaselskis tried to break into the monument again a day later and was arrested again.
In both incidents, Jaselskis was wearing a blue jacket identical to one the the Comet Ping Pong arsonist was wearing on surveillance videos, which prompted law enforcement officers to investigate whether Jaselskis was also behind the arsons. Security cameras reviewed by police after Jaselskis’ arrest captured his car near Comet Ping Pong around the time of the arson.
It’s not clear why Jaselskis started the fires, or why he attempted to break into the Washington Monument.
The January arson attack was the latest bizarre incident at Comet Ping Pong, which has experienced harassment and worse from Pizzagate believers over the past two years.
In Dec. 2016, a North Carolina man traveled to the restaurant and fired a gun. While Pizzagate has died down since amid legal threats against conspiracy theorists promoting the theory, it continues to win adherents as part of the larger QAnon conspiracy theory.