UPDATE: Law Enforcement Sources Contradict Reports School Shooter Has Ties to White Nationalist Group
Law enforcement sources have contradicted reports that the 19-year-old suspect in Wednesday's massacre at a Florida high school has ties to a white nationalist group that calls itself the Republic of Florida.
Jordan Jereb, the group's leader, told the Anti-Defamation League that Nikolas Cruz participated in training exercises with the group in recent years.
Law enforcement sources, however, have since told the Tallahassee Democrat that they could not find information linking Cruz to the group.
Florida white supremacist group says suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz trained with them, ADL says. The "Republic of Florida" calls itself a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics.” https://t.co/fB2ujQGOUX
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) February 15, 2018
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 said he didn't know Cruz personally and that "he acted on his own" in carrying out the shooting, adding "he's solely responsible for what he just did."
He also said Cruz had "trouble with a girl" and he believed the timing of the attack, Valentine's Day, wasn't a coincidence.
Cruz legally purchased the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle that he used in the mass shooting, Shepard Smith reported.
Students at the school said there were plenty of red flags about Cruz, who was expelled last year after a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.
Cruz was known to have an affinity for guns and shooting animals and students said they used to joke about him carrying out a mass shooting.
A teacher at the school said an email was sent out last year warning that Cruz should not be allowed to have a backpack on campus.
The FBI said they were notified of a YouTube comment last year by a user with the same name, declaring "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."
Agents, however, failed to identify the person behind the account.
This article has been updated to reflect new information from Florida police.