It turns out the Florida teen who mercilessly killed 17 people in a horrific school shooting in Parkland on Wednesday may not have ties to a white nationalist group after all.
White nationalist militia leader Jordan Jereb on Thursday seemingly walked back his earlier statements claiming 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group, Republic of Florida, CBS News reported. Tallahassee authorities said they were unable to link Cruz to the far-right paramilitary organization.
“…We’re still doing some work but we have no known ties between the ROF, Jordan Jereb or the Broward shooter,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Grady Jordan told the Tallahassee Democrat.
Jereb sparked a media firestorm Thursday, when he told the Anti–Defamation League Cruz had participated in paramilitary drills with the group in Tallahassee and had carpooled “with other ROF members from South Florida” for the training exercises. He also alleged that the teen was “brought” up by a member of the group.
Jereb, who’s had several run-ins with Tallahassee police, also spoke with the Associated Press, saying his group wants to Florida to be its own white ethno-state. The Tallahassee Democrat wrote that the self-professed “right-wing extremist nut” is known for riding his bike through neighborhoods sporting paramilitary garb, or standing on the corner waving an ROF flag.
Hours after his initial statements, a social media account bearing Jereb’s name called the whole thing a “legit misunderstanding” and that they had received “a bunch of conflicting information.” The author also said the group has more than one member named Nikolas.
Still, authorities say evidence linking Cruz to the white nationalist militia is scant.
The 19-year-old opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday killing 17 and injuring several others. He’s since been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.