Area sex offender accused of threatening to kill Howard University students

John Rust mugshot

John Rust (Virginia Sex Offender Registery)

A man from the Richmond Highway area is facing federal charges for allegedly issuing an anonymous threat to kill black students at Howard University in 2015. 

John Edgar Rust, 24, is accused of posting the threat on an internet message board on Nov. 11, 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia. Rust is charged with the transmission in interstate commerce of a communication containing threats to injure the person of another. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

In the threat, which was widely shared, Rust allegedly claimed he would kill black students on the campus if they were still there at a certain time. The slur-ridden threat was posted on the 4chan message board and then shared on Reddit, according to an affidavit posted by the Justice Department.

“Sometimes the best thing to do is to put stupid out of its misery,” Rust allegedly wrote at the end of the threat. “After all, it’s not murder if they’re black.”

Rust, a resident of the Burgundy Village neighborhood, was caught after authorities traced the threats to an IP address at the Panera in the Beacon Center on Richmond Highway. Investigators said that Rust’s laptop and phone were both connected to the internet at the restaurant, and his credit car showed also showed a purchase there. An almost identical version of the threat was allegedly found on Rust’s laptop, according to the affidavit. 

Rust is a registered sex offender, having been convicted of indecent liberties with a child by custodian and aggravated sexual battery in 2012.