Alexandria Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Howard University Students With Murder

The racist threats posted to an internet forum led Howard University to step up security

An Alexandria, Virginia, man pleaded guilty of threatening to murder Howard University students on an online forum.

John Edgar Rust, 26, faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, Department of Justice prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Rust connected his computer to the Wi-Fi at a Panera restaurant in Alexandria on Nov. 11, 2015, an affidavit released after his arrest said. A food purchase was also made on Rust's credit card, the affadavit said.

He then posted on the website 4Chan, which allows users to post anonymously. The post spewed racial slurs and threatened to murder African Americans. According to an FBI affidavit, Rust concluded the threat by saying, "After all, it's not murder if they're black."

He posted s link to the threat on another forum minutes later, prosecutors said, using the handle "watchouthoward."

According to the Virginia sex offender registry, Rust was convicted of indecent liberties with child by custodian and aggravated sexual battery in 2012. He was on probation for those crimes when he made those threats.

Howard University stepped up security on campus and at nearby Metro stations after the threats, and students held rallies to speak out against the racist message.

Police arrested Rust in October 2017, nearly two years after the threats were posted, News4 reported.

He pleaded guilty to transmitting in interstate commerce threats to injure another person, prosecutors said. His sentencing is scheduled for July 20.

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