Local law enforcement officials in Florida have seemingly pushed back on the media narrative that Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was a member of a white nationalist militia.
As authorities attempted to piece together the motive for this crime, Jordan Jereb — the leader of a white nationalist organization known as the Republic of Florida — said Thursday that Cruz was a member of his group.
Jereb told The Associated Press that Cruz used to participate in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee, though he emphasized that in terms of the shooting, Cruz “acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.”
Later on Thursday, though, Leon County law enforcement sources told the Tallahassee Democrat they could not find any links between Cruz and the militia.
“We are still doing some work but we have no known ties between the ROF, Jordan Jereb or the Broward shooter,” Leon County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Grady Jordan said.
Police would not confirm whether they had spoken to Jereb in relation to the shooting, though the white nationalist leader has reportedly been arrested four times since January 2014.
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Jereb, meanwhile, told the Democrat there was “no way to put a good spin on all of this,” adding, “this is a negative situation.”
After the local newspaper reported that law enforcement had found no connection between Cruz and the Republic of Florida, a social media account bearing Jereb’s name seemed to backtrack on his previous claims.
He said in a profanity-laced post that there had been a “legit misunderstanding,” which he blamed on the “lying jew media.”
But the social media post contrasted sharply to claims Jereb had made to multiple news outlets, as well as to the Anti-Defamation League.
“This is a difficult subject,” he told The Daily Beast on Thursday morning.
“I’ve been taking calls all day on it. I’m many things, but I’m not a liar. I can’t lie. He was part of our organization. He wasn’t particularly active in it, but at some point he came to Tallahassee with I believe the Clearwater RoF. I know he didn’t live in Clearwater, but I think that was the company he clicked up with.”
Moreover, the ADL claimed Jereb told them that Cruz was associated with his group. Jereb later told ABC News he had not talked with Cruz in “some time.”
What’s more, three of of Cruz’s classmates told ABC that the alleged shooter was indeed part of the group. They added that he often marched with the group and was seen around Jereb.
However, the Southern Poverty Law Center said it could not confirm the link between Cruz and the Republic of Florida.
“Jereb initially claimed that Cruz was a member, that he had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, and that he carpooled with other members from South Florida. Though the link was reported by several news organizations, the SPLC has not confirmed it,” the SPLC said in a statement.
Cruz is currently facing charges for 17 counts of premeditated murder after he allegedly opened fire with an AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, killing at least 17 people.
He reportedly confessed to the crime.
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