Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspected of gunning down 17 people at a high school in Florida on Wednesday, was loosely involved with a white supremacist group, the Anti-Defamation League reported Thursday. A prominent member of the Republic of Florida — a self-proclaimed "white civil rights organization" — told the ADF that Cruz had attended one of their training events and had been "brought up" by another ROF member.
The ADL first discovered Cruz's connection to the ROF on 4chan, a controversial online message board frequented by trolls and white supremacists. In the aftermath of the shooting, where Cruz allegedly stormed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a 4chan user claiming to be a member of the ROF posted about Cruz's membership with the group.
The ADL then contacted the group, and a member whom the ADL believed to be the group's leader informed them that Cruz had attended "one or more" ROF training events. The Daily Beast spoke to that same member, Jordan Jereb, who said the group practiced "paramilitary" tactics. "He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday," Jereb said.
On their website, the ROF clearly states its goal as "the ultimate creation of a white ethnostate." The ADL noted that Jereb claimed the group "had not ordered or wanted" Cruz to perpetrate any shooting. Read more at the ADL. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Update 5:11 p.m. ET: The Tallahassee Democrat reported that local law enforcement has been unable to find any concrete links between Cruz and the ROF. "We are still doing some work but we have no known ties between the ROF, Jordan Jereb, or [Cruz]," Leon County Sheriff's Office Lt. Grady Jordan said. It was unclear whether authorities had spoken to Jereb, who spoke to several news outlets about Cruz's purported ties to the ROF. Read more at the Tallahassee Democrat.