The suspect charged in the Wednesday massacre at a Florida high school was reportedly a member of a white nationalist militia, according to the leader of the group.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire with an AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, killing at least 17 people. Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
As authorities try to piece together what led to this crime being committed, Jordan Jereb — the leader of a white nationalist militia — said Thursday that Cruz was a member of his group.
Jereb’s organization, the Republic of Florida, wants Florida to “become its own white ethno-state,” The Associated Press reported.
Though the group tries to to avoid most involvement with the modern world, Jereb told the AP that they hold “spontaneous random demonstrations.” Cruz, Jereb said, used to participate in paramilitary drills with the white nationalist group in Tallahassee.
Jereb did not know Cruz personally, but he did note that the suspected killer was having “trouble with a girl.” As a result, he thinks it was no coincidence that the attack was carried out on Valentine’s Day.
Still, Jereb emphasized that Cruz “acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.”
In addition to allegedly being part of the white nationalist group, Cruz also worked at a local Dollar Tree.
Meanwhile, as The Western Journal reported, many people have pointed out that Cruz had previously shown signs that he may be trouble.
He had a history of posting disturbing content to his social media accounts, and according to one of his classmates, he “seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”
Moreover, on Wednesday, YouTube user Ben Bennight posted a video to the platform claiming that in September 2017, a user named “Nikolas Cruz” posted a disturbing comment on one of his videos.
“Im going to be a professional school shooter,” the comment read.
In addition to the YouTube comment, Cruz’s prior actions set off red flags among his classmates and teachers.
“I stayed clear of him most of the time. He’s been a troubled kid, and he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling. He showed me (his guns) personally through his phone,” one student at the school told WSVN.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him. There were problems with him last year threatening students. I guess he was asked to leave campus,” Cruz’s former math teacher, Jim Gard, told the Miami Herald.
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