A 24-year-old man from Alexandria, Va., is
finally facing charges in connection with racist death threats online on 4chan and Reddit that targeted students at historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C.
“Any niggers left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go,” the messages read in part, according to the Washington Post. “After all it’s not murder if they’re black.”
Authorities took John Edgar Rust into custody Wednesday and charged him with making the threats from a café in northern Virginia back in 2015.
According to KSDK, once the threat was made, authorities narrowed down the identity of the IP address of the computer associated with the person who wrote the posts.
The racist message referenced protests at the University of Missouri over the way racial disputes on campus were handled, which, in turn, ended up leading the school’s presidents to resign.
“I left MU [University of Missouri] yesterday because I couldn’t put up with it anymore. I go home to Maryland and what do I see? The same old shit. Turn on the news and it’s always the niggers causing trouble everywhere,” the message read in part. “So I’ve decided. Any niggers left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go. And any of those cheapskate niggers who try to get out using the metro will regret that choice real fast.”
Authorities traced the IP address back to a Panera Bread in Alexandria and then went through the restaurant’s router logs, noting that Rust had used several devices at the restaurant at the time the threats were made. He also used his credit card at the same time at the same location.
As the Post reports, Rust is a felon who is barred from using the internet. The 26-year-old is a registered sex offender, convicted in 2012 in Loudoun County, Va., of aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a child by a custodian.
Rust acknowledged that he had been on the computer at Panera and violated his probation by using the internet, authorities said.
Authorities interviewed Rust, and law enforcement went through some of his electronic devices. Agents found that he had visited both 4chan and Reddit about the time that the threat was made, and the text of the threatening posts were found on his computer, including various drafts.
Ultimately, Rust was charged with transmission in interstate commerce of a communication containing threats to injure the person of another. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Rust is scheduled to appear in federal court in Alexandria on Thursday.