EAST WILLIAMSBURG — Local police pledged to ramp up patrols near Roberta's Pizza after staff got threatening phone messages following rumors circulating online that the restaurant was linked to the false-news "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory, police said.
"We know from the get-go this could be more serious than the average call," said Deputy Inspector William Gardner, head of the 90th Precinct, who added that they don't have the manpower to station someone outside Roberta's 24/7, but will get the patrol officers assigned to that part of the precinct to "pass by more often."
"My guys know about it. They're giving it special attention," he said.
Roberta's received the threatening call on Dec. 1, where the caller said he would torture a young worker and make her bleed, according to police. The day later they got another call asking about their ties to the debunked claim that Hillary Clinton ran a child abuse ring out of a D.C. pizza shop, police said.
Several days before, conspiracy theorists had started to spread rumors online that Roberta's was involved in "Pizzagate," citing occult images on Roberta's social media pages and the fact that Bill and Hillary Clinton ate at Roberta's in 2012 as evidence of their claims.
The conspiracy theories about the D.C.-based Comet Ping Pong pizzeria escalated into a flurry of social media posts and threats — and inspired an armed man to go to the D.C. restaurant on Sunday and fire several shots with his assault rifle on Sunday, according to reports.
Upon hearing about the threat to Roberta's, some took to social media to pledge their allegiance to the neighborhood institution, and by default, promised to eat more pizza.
*orders twelve @RobertasPizza pizzas out of spite/solidarity*— Caitlin Van Horn (@HelloCVH) December 7, 2016
Workers at Roberta's didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.