The leader of a white nationalist militia says Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee.
Jordan Jereb told The Associated Press on Thursday that his group, the Republic of Florida, 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 behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.”
He also said he had “trouble with a girl” and he believed the timing of the attack, carried out on Valentine’s Day, wasn’t a coincidence.
A Mississippi bail bondsman named Benjamin Bennight said he alerted the FBI last September after someone using the screen name “Nikolas Cruz” posted a comment on his YouTube channel saying: “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”
Bennight explains in a video post that he flagged it for YouTube and called an FBI office in Mississippi to report it. He says FBI agents visited him the next day.
Agent Rob Lasky says the agency did a database review but couldn’t determine the time, location or true identity of the person making the comment.
Bennight says the FBI came calling again within hours of the shooting. He says “they’re going to have to get with YouTube about where the comment originated, but I think they already know.”
Nineteen-year-old Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the shooting.