Howard Students Express Relief and Confusion after Man who Threatened Them is Arrested

Eileen Salazaar, Howard University News Service

Students at Howard University are expressing mixed views on the arrest of a man, who threatened to kill African Americans at the D.C. based institution two years ago.

John Edgar Rust. 

Convicted sex offender felon John Edgar Rust, 24, who was arrested two years after he made the threats in a Panera Bread, is facing up to five years in prison if convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

On November 11, 2015, Rust wrote on Reddit message boards and 4chan,  “Any ni***** left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go”. According to an FBI affidavit, Rust concluded the threat by saying "After all, it's not murder if they're black."

“When I first saw it on Twitter, I thought it was fake,” senior Joshua Williams said. “All the post/screenshots were coming from the same account so it didn’t seem legit.”

Another student questioned the length it took for an update on the case.

“It’s interesting to me that it took two years for us to hear anything about this,” sophomore Reagan Staton said.

According to state records, Rust is a registered sex offender. In 2012 he was convicted of  aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a child by a custodian. As part of his probation, he was banned from using the internet.

A former student expressed concern.

“As a former bison who maintains a good relationships with friends on Howard’s campus, it makes me concerned for their well-being,” Brittany Hall said. “There are dangers everywhere on this planet, but they don’t really hit you until it’s yourself or someone you love.”

One student is speculating that the presence of James Comey, who is scheduled to give a series of talks sped up the arrest of Rust.

“I wonder if former FBI director James Comey’s presence will have anything to do with Howard stepping up its security efforts,” senior Jacob Berch said.