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Press Release

Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening to Murder African-Americans at Howard University

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Alexandria man pleaded guilty today to threatening to murder African-Americans at Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, D.C.

According to court documents, on the night of Nov. 11, 2015, John Edgar Rust, 26, entered a restaurant in Alexandria, connected his computer and laptop to the store’s wireless Internet connection, and posted a threat online to murder African-Americans at Howard University the next day. He posted a statement on another Internet bulletin board several minutes later, under the user name “watchouthoward,” that linked to his first post.  He was on probation at the time for committing another crime. 

Rust pleaded guilty to transmission in interstate commerce of a communication containing threats to injure the person of another and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on July 20. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas U. Murphy and Maya D. Song are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:17-cr-290.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated March 6, 2018

Violent Crime