The man believed to be responsible for Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is reportedly a member of a white supremacist organization.
Jordan Jereb, the leader of the white supremacist group the Republic of Florida, told the Anti-Defamation League on Friday that Nikolas Cruz, the mass shooting suspect, was affiliated with ROF and had been “brought up” in the group by a previous member.
According to its website, ROF aims to establish a “white ethnostate” in Florida, and defines itself as “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics.”
In a subsequent interview with the Daily Beast, Jereb said that Cruz had participated in a “paramilitary” training session hosted by ROF in Tallahassee.
“He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday,” Jereb said.
“Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out.”
Still, Jereb claimed that a member of ROF bought Cruz a rifle — though not the one he used in Wednesday’s mass shooting.
“I think somebody bought him a Mosin-Nagant, but that’s bolt action. He had a semi-automatic in the school. He may have buried it in his survival cache. We encourage members to do that.”
Jereb told the Daily Beast that Cruz was fully aware of what the group stood for.
“I know he knew full well he was joining a white separatist paramilitary proto-facist organization,” Jereb said. “I know he knew that much.”
Cruz also appears to have been a Donald Trump supporter. In response to an inquiry from a Guardian reporter, a representative from Instagram confirmed that the company had removed social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram (which are owned by the same company) believed to belong to Cruz. The Instagram profile’s avatar is wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and a scarf covering his face.
Instagram implicitly confirming that an account with a MAGA Trump hat avatar belonged to gunman Nikolas Cruz. Asked why the account was removed, spokesperson says: pic.twitter.com/LdXb73iCj8
— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) February 15, 2018
Two of Cruz’s former classmates told the Daily Beast that the suspect wore a “Make America Great Again” hat to school.
Cruz is facing 17 counts of murder and is being held without bond.
[Feature image: Broward County Sheriff/Nikolas Cruz]