Gina Cook

Prosecutors: Alexandria Man Threatened Killings at Howard University

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

An Alexandria, Virginia, man has been arrested nearly two years after police say he threatened to murder African Americans at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

John Edgar Rust, 24, has been charged and faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison if he's convicted, the U.S. Attorney's Office said on Wednesday. Rust is a previously convicted felon, the office said. According to the Virginia sex offender registry, Rust was convicted of indecent liberties with child by custodian and aggravated sexual battery in 2012.

On Nov. 11, 2015, the threat was 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."

The affidavit states investigators traced the threat to a Panera restaurant in Alexandria. Agents then determined Rust's computer was connected to the restaurant's Wi-Fi network, and that he made a restaurant purchase that day on his credit card.

Howard University increased security on campus and at nearby Metro stations after the threat and students held rallies to speak out against the racist message.

Rust is in custody and is set to appear before a federal judge Thursday afternoon.

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