Claims that the suspect in last week’s school shooting in Florida may have ties to a white supremacist group appear to be false, media outlets are now reporting.
Jordan Jereb, the leader of white nationalist group Republic of Florida, reported to the Associated Press and the Anti-Defamation League that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group. He said he did not personally know Cruz but that he had participated in militia-style trainings with the group.
Authorities have been pointed from the start in saying they could not confirm the reports but are investigating every lead.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups, also reported last week that it “has not confirmed [the rumor].”
The SPLC suspected from the get-go that Jereb’s behavior seemed odd and his report unreliable:
“It may seem odd that Jereb would bring attention to his group by claiming a connection to Cruz, but Jereb has always been somewhat of a publicity seeker. In 2014, in fact, he wrote us to complain that we had not already listed ROF as a hate group. In April 2017, Michael Tubbs, the leader of the Florida chapter of the League of the South, a well-known hate group, wrote that Jereb ‘never misses a photo op’ and called him ‘a nut job who should be avoided.’”
ABC News also reported last week that several former classmates of Cruz’s confirmed that he had a relationship with Jereb. It is unclear whether or not this is true. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told the Miami Herald that authorities are looking into this as well.
Jereb appears to have capitalized on the tragedy in Florida to bring attention to his own agenda of hate. He posted on Gab, a social media site commonly used by members of the alt-right:
“There was a legit misunderstanding because we have MULTIPLE people named Nicholas in ROF, And I got a bunch of conflicting information and I have not slept for like 2 days, And so when ((( They ))) call me up and ask me yes or no questions, Its easy for them to misrepresent what I say. Are you really going to blame ME for the lying jew media? We know they are liars. F*** em.”
Original story below:
Nikolas Cruz, who shot and killed 17 people at a high school in Florida on Wednesday, reportedly has ties to a white nationalist organization, according to the leader of the group.
Jordan Jereb, leader of the Republic of Florida (ROF), confirmed Cruz’s membership to multiple outlets. Following Jereb’s initial claim, though, conflicting reports have emerged.
The AP reported:
“Jereb told The Associated Press that his group wants Florida to become its own white ethno-state. He said his group holds ‘spontaneous random demonstrations’ and tries not to participate in the modern world.”
Jereb told the Daily Beast that he doesn’t know Cruz very well. (Several of Cruz’s former classmates told ABC News that they often saw Cruz and Jereb together, though.)
Whether or not Jereb and Cruz were close, though, Jereb said that Cruz “knew full well he was joining a white separatist paramilitary proto-facist organization. I know he knew that much,” according to the Daily Beast.
“President Trump, you say what can you do? You can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands,” Lori Alhadeff screamed.
Jereb tried to distance his group from Cruz’s attack — although his shooting skills are likely a link to his ROF membership.
“I’m not trying to glorify it, but he was pretty efficient in what he did,” Jereb told the Daily Beast. “He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday. Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out.”
ROF describes itself on its website as violent.
“We will stand our ground against all who attack us. Those who attack us better know what they are doing. If your (sic) a military aged man and we believe you can cause us great bodily harm, We will do everything in our power to make you no longer be a threat, Which will probably involve us killing or hospitalizing you. Best bet is to fight us with your words if you disagree with us. But if you want to get violent and put your hands on us, That works in our favor. We can always use practice.
Model students, a passionate teacher and an athletic coach who died a hero are among those who lost their lives in the tragic shooting.
“We will use all tools at our disposal to advance our objectives, But our first priority is to exercise what rights we have under the law.”
Jereb suggested to the Daily Beast that Cruz’s attack may have stemmed from a hatred of Jews or women.
“There’s a very real sense of feminism being a cancer. That could’ve played into what he did, but we have female members of ROF,” Jereb told the outlet. He also noted that the group is “not a big fan of Jews. I think there were a lot of Jews at the school that might have been messing with him.”
Scott Israel, sheriff of Broward County, said that authorities could not confirm at this time whether Cruz is or is not linked to the group, multiple media outlets reported. A clear motive has not yet been established.
At least one of the victims reportedly attended a Jewish summer camp, and one of the teachers who was killed was a counselor at a predominantly Jewish summer camp. Another victim, Joaquin Oliver, was an immigrant from Venezuela who arrived in the United States as a toddler.
Cruz, 19, opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon. He pulled the fire alarm to lure his victims out of their classrooms. The attack began at 2:19 pm and Cruz was not taken into custody until 3:41 pm. During that time, Cruz ditched his vest and AR-15 rifle and blended in the crowd of students who were fleeing the building. He left the campus and made stops at a local Walmart and McDonald’s. Authorities eventually found him walking on the street and arrested him.