Florida white supremacist group says Parkland shooting suspect is a member

A Florida white supremacist group says that Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with murdering 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was a member. The group, known as Republic of Florida, told the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), that Cruz “participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, carpooling with other ROF members from south Florida.”

The ADL spoke with a man identifying himself as Jordan Jereb, who is thought to be the leader of the group. Jereb claimed “ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting.”

“He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday. Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out,” Jereb told the Daily Beast. “I know he knew full well he was joining a white separatists paramilitary proto-fascist organization.”

A leader of the group made the same claim to the Associated Press.

ABC News talked to three Cruz’s classmates who said “Cruz was part of the group.” His classmates “claimed he marched with the group frequently and was often seen with Jereb.”

The ADL learned of Cruz’s involvement with the Republic of Florida through the 4chan messaging board, a unmoderated online forum that has been known to perpetrate hoaxes.

A call by ThinkProgress to the Republic of Florida hotline listed on their website was not picked up. The group describes themselves as “a white civil rights organization fighting for white Identitarian politics, And the ultimate creation of a white ethnostate so we can be free from anti-white policies and have policies that reflect our values as white westerners.” It also claims to maintain “armed forces.”

The group’s website echoes themes and images commonly found on web-supremacist sections of the internet. For example their flag has a Celtic cross, which is a favored tattoo design among white supremacist prison gangs and the KKK. The Triskele symbol, which is also on their flag, has also been extensively used by white supremacists. The group also describes Islam as a “military doctrine” and describes itself as a “Christian Organization with a few Odinists.”

ThinkProgress has contacted the FBI for comment.

This is a breaking news piece and will be updated.