Updated: Police say “no known ties” between Florida school shooter and white nationalist group

The leader of the Republic of Florida, a "white civil rights organization," said the Parkland shooter was a member

Published February 15, 2018 5:18PM (EST)

Nikolas Cruz (Getty/Broward's Sheriff's Office)
Nikolas Cruz (Getty/Broward's Sheriff's Office)

UPDATE: Local law enforcement sources have not found ties between Nikolas Cruz and the Republic of Florida. The group's leader, Jordan Jereb, has also since seemed to suggest his initial admission of knowing of Cruz's participation was not accurate.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of carrying out a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school Wednesday, was involved with a white supremacist group and participated in paramilitary drills, according to multiple news reports.

The leader of the Republic of Florida, Jordan Jereb, confirmed on Thursday that Cruz was a member of the organization and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee, the Associated Press reported. Jereb insisted Cruz had "acted on his own behalf" and was "solely responsible for what he just did." He also said he did not personally know Cruz, but that he was brought up by other members within the organization.

ROF has been described as a "white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics," according to the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights watchdog that also spoke with Jereb. ROF advocates for a "white ethno-state" in Florida.

Three former classmates of Cruz also told ABC News that he had been a part of the organization, telling reporters that they frequently saw him march with the group and saw him alongside Jereb, despite Jereb's initial denials.

Jereb told ABC he had not spoken to Cruz in "some time." He added that "he knew he would getting this call" about a mass shooting involving Cruz, but provided no further details or explanation.

Cruz opened fire on his former classmates on Wednesday, killing 17 people. He also had a known past obsession with guns, and has since been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder.

There have been widespread outcries from the public, professional basketball coaches and even students who survived the tragic shooting for lawmakers to act on gun control. So far, Trump has only focused on mental illness as the reason behind the incident and has not made any mention of guns, or potential reform legislation. He addressed the nation on Thursday and urged children to seek help if they are "lost, alone, confused or even scared," CNN reported.

Trump has not yet addressed the news of Cruz's ties to white supremacy, and a quick look at recent events will show that the president has reacted differently to mass acts of violence committed by white people, compared to people of color. Trump has often used terror attacks committed by Muslims as a vehicle to push forth his hardline immigration agenda, and to justify growing U.S. wars abroad, despite the growing threat from right-wing extremism. He has also often been touted as a champion for many right-wing white supremacists, such as David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

By Charlie May

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