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Press Release

Man Sentenced for Threats to African-Americans at Howard University

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Alexandria man was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for 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, 27, entered a restaurant in Alexandria, connected his laptop computer and phone 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.

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady found that Rust’s conduct constituted a hate crime, thereby increasing his sentence, and ordered Rust to pay $6458.28 in restitution to Howard University for expenses incurred as a result of Rust’s crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas U. Murphy and Maya D. Song prosecuted 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 July 20, 2018

Hate Crimes