The member of a white nationalist militia group told the Associated Press and the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday that the 19-year-old Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group. Cruz has also participated in one or more paramilitary drills run by the group in Tallahassee.
Jordan Jereb says that he and his group, the Republic of Florida (ROF), want Florida to become its own white ethno-state. The group holds “spontaneous random demonstrations” but mostly tries to not participate in modern society. The group describes themselves as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics.” Other ROF members also claimed Cruz as one of their own on the discussion forum 4chan.
Jereb told The Daily Beast that Cruz probably used the skills he learned at ROF’s “paramilitary” training sessions during the shooting. “Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out,” Jereb said. The ROF member also said Cruz was aware of what he was getting into when he joined the group. “I know he knew full well he was joining a white separatist paramilitary proto-facist organization,” Jereb added. “I know he knew that much.”
Jereb confirmed Cruz belonged to the same group, though he had been “brought up” by another member and Jereb did not know Cruz personally, adding that “[Cruz] acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.” The Daily Beast reports that an ROF member might have bought Nikolas Cruz a gun, though not the one he used in the school shooting.
“I think somebody bought him a Mosin-Nagant, but that’s bolt action. He had a semi-automatic in the school,” Jereb said. “He may have buried it in his survival cache. We encourage members to do that.”
Former classmates of Cruz, who used to attend the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told The Daily Beast that Cruz followed right-wing politics. He also wore a “Make America Great Again” hat in school.
Jereb also offered an alternative motive behind the attack that has left 17 dead and 14 wounded: Cruz apparently had “trouble with a girl” and that’s why he believes the timing of the attack—on Valentine’s Day—was not a coincidence.
Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.