Man charged with online threats to Howard University students appears in court, ordered held

A Virginia man appeared in federal court for his preliminary detention hearing after he was arrested for allegedly posting threats online to kill African American students at Howard University nearly two years ago.

According to the court affidavits, 24-year-old John Edgar Rust used racial slurs repeatedly in posted threats on the website 4chan on November 11, 2015. He wrote in part: "Any [n-word] left at Howard University after 10 tomorrow will be the first to go."

In court on Thursday, the defense asked the judge to release the Alexandria man on his own recognizance. However, the judge felt that Rust is a danger to the community and denied the request, not only because of his serious criminal history, but also for the allegations itself.

The prosecution verified the evidence gathered and the defense questioned why it took them almost two years to make an arrest, even though they interviewed Rust on the night in question.

An FBI agent assigned to the case took the stand and referred to the affidavit saying that it takes a period of time to access the devices that were taken into evidence. Many of those devices were encrypted and she added it takes time to make an arrest and doesn't happen overnight.

Rust has lived in Alexandria for 18 years. He has two felony convictions and three violations in addition of being a convicted sex offender.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, because this is a criminal complaint, if Rust does not file or enter a guilty plea in this case, then they will indict him and a trial will begin.