An Alexandria, Virginia man has been arrested two years after he allegedly threatened to kill African Americans at Howard University.
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John Edgar Rust, 26, faces up to five years in prison if convicted after he was arrested Wednesday, October 4, 2017, on charges of threatening murder online. According to court documents, Rust used the in-store Wi-Fi of a Panera Bread restaurant in Alexandria to post the threat to two online message boards on November 11, 2015.
Rust posted the message during a period of racial unrest at Missouri University.
“I left MU yesterday because I couldn’t put up with it anymore,” Rust wrote in his Facebook post. “I go home to Maryland and what do I see? The same old s***. Turn on the news and it’s always the n***** causing trouble everywhere. So I’ve decided. Any n***** left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go. And any of those cheapskate n***** who try to get out using the metro will regret that choice real fast.”
According to the FBI affidavit, Rust concluded by saying, “After all, it’s not murder if they’re black.”
Shortly after the post, Rust’s roommate mentioned the threats on Reddit and stated, “Just consider yourselves warned.”
A few days later, federal investigators traced the posts to the WiFi at the Panera Bread, went through the restaurant’s router log and discovered Rust had used several devices at the time the threat was posted online. Authorities eventually tracked him down, interviewed him and went through his electronic devices before they decided he should be charged.
Rust is due to appear for a preliminary and detention hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria today (Oct. 5) at 2 p.m. If convicted, he’ll be sentenced by a federal court judge who will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors, according to the DOJ statement.
Rust is a previously convicted felon, according to a statement from the Department of Justice about the arrest. The Virginia Sex Offender Registry includes a man named John Edgar Rust, 26, of Alexandria, who was convicted in November 2012 of indecent liberties with a child by custodian and aggravated sexual battery against a minor.
Howard University, a historically black college in Washington D.C., said it was “relieved” Rust was arrested and in FBI custody.