After two years of dodging jail time, a 24-year-old Alexandria man will face charges for threatening students at Howard University.
In 2015, John Edgar Rust posted menacing messages online on Reddit and 4chan, which read “Any niggers left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go. After all it’s not murder if they’re Black.”
Following the death threats, university officials brought the matter to the attention of the FBI and campus police brought heavy security to the school. At the time of Rust’s online posts, students feared attending classes, taking to social media to air their concerns.
When FBI agents traced the threats, they concluded they were originating from a wireless Internet connection at a Panera Bread in Rust’s town. Rust later admitted to using the web, which was a violation of his probation. Rust is a registered sex offender.
Based on a search of his computer, FBI agents gather that Rust was motivated to threaten Black students because he was upset with the handling of protests at the University Missouri that led to the school president’s resignation. Online, he searched for explosives, firearms, and poison.
According to The Washington Post, Rust also sent a text message to an associate expressing his anger and indicating plans to carry out an attack of some sort.
“Anarchy on the Internet works,” he said in the text message. “I’m angry at everyone and that’s just fueling the existing unresolved anger I have towards people which will burst… I planned how to take out that anger years ago and I’ve been sitting on that plan ever since.”
Rust faces up to five years in prison for his actions.