Racist threats posted to message boards like 4chan and Reddit two years ago were traced to a 26-year-old registered sex offender, who was arrested and charged for the threats on Wednesday.
According to the Washington Post, John Edgar Rust made online threats to Howard University students while visiting a Panera Bread restaurant in Northern Virginia.
“Any n*****s left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go . . . After all, it’s not murder if they’re black,” Rust allegedly wrote.
After the threats were first made in 2015, D.C. police and Howard University campus police upped their patrol presence for several days. The HBCU also contacted the FBI, who investigated the matter. FBI agent Keith Palli examined several tweets from Howard students who said they were afraid to go to class or walk the campus at night after the threat.
FBI agents were able to trace the 2015 threat to the wireless internet at the Panera in Alexandria. According to the FBI, a MacBook Air and Nokia phone registered to Rust were both connected to that network and his credit card had been used at the restaurant.
Rust is a registered sex offender barred from using the internet. He was convicted in 2012 in Loudoun County of aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a child by a custodian, reported the Washington Post.
Rust admitted to using his computer at Panera that day, which violated the terms of his probation.
When agents searched his computer, they said they found that he had visited both 4chan and Reddit around the time the threat appeared. The text of the threatening post was allegedly found on his computer, reported the Washington Post.
Rust faces a maximum of five years in prison if convicted.
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