Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old man who killed 17 people when he opened fire at his former high school in South Florida, was a member of the white nationalist group “Republic of Florida,” its leader said on Thursday.
The leader of the group, who goes by the name Jordan Jereb, told the Associated Press and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that Cruz had participated in paramilitary drills in the Tallahassee area. He was brought into the group by another member, Jereb said.
Jereb denied any role in Wednesday’s shooting and said Cruz was acting on his own behalf. He told AP that he believed Cruz was having “trouble with a girl” and thinks the timing of the attack, which happened on Valentine’s Day, was not a coincidence.
The “Republic of Florida” describes itself as a white civil rights organization. On its website, the group says its ultimate goal is the creation of a white ethnostate “so we can be free from anti-white policies and have policies that reflect our values as white westerners.”
Authorities have not provided any details about a possible motive for Wednesday’s shooting, which left 17 dead and 13 injured. Cruz, who was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, was arrested near the school and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
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