A spokesperson for a Florida white supremacist group confirmed Thursday that the gunman who opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Fla., and killed at least 17 people was associated with the group.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Jordan Jereb with the group, the Republic of Florida, acknowledged that the gunman Nikolas Cruz was associated with the organization, having been “brought up” by another member.
Jereb, who is believed to be the leader of the Republic of Florida, also said that Cruz participated in at least one of the group’s paramilitary drills in the Tallahassee area, carpooling with other members from South Florida.
Jereb told the Daily Beast that the gunman “probably used that training to do what he did yesterday,” while insisting that “nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out.”
As the ADL notes, the ROF, which describes itself as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics,” is seeking to create a “white ethnostate” in Florida.
Jereb told the Associated Press that he did not know the gunman personally, adding that Cruz “acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.”
The gunman, 19, is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder in the horrific mass shooting.