Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz espoused racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views and displayed a clear obsession with guns and violence, messages in a private group chat have revealed.
An exclusive investigation by CNN found that comments Cruz may have left on a now-defunct YouTube channel was added to a private Instagram group by one of the active members. After joining the group back in August 2017, much of the conversation was between six individuals who appeared to be under 18, including Cruz, according to the news network.
Racism was a recurrent theme in the self-dubbed “Murica (American flag emoji [and] eagle emoji) Great” group, in which Cruz declared his hate for “jews, n—–s and immigrants.” He also talked about killing Mexicans, keeping Black folks in chains and cutting their necks off. This was in addition to the hundreds of other racist messages, memes and IG videos shared in the group. Cruz was particularly troubled by white women who dated outside their race, repeatedly referring to them as traitors.
At one point, the shooting suspect said he hated Black people for the sole fact that they were Black, and he hated Jews because he felt they were trying to take over the world.
The shooter’s obsession with guns and assault weapons was another hot topic of discussion in the group chat, according to CNN. Cruz’s own Instagram page already featured photos of his “arsenal,” which included seven guns and body armor. A Florida law enforcement official told the network that the 19-year-old had purchased at least five firearms in the past year.
Members of the group sometimes discussed which gun they liked better: M16s or AKs. One member went so far as to direct Cruz to a website selling an aftermarket accessory that’d essentially turn his AR-15 rifle into a fully automatic weapon. Authorities said they have no indication Cruz followed through with the purchase.
Cruz later purchased body armor, however, using a $330 paycheck. He informed the group of his purchase, asking whether it was legal to wear body armor to school. When a fellow member asked why he wanted to know, he replied, “School shooters.”
At another point in the chat, Cruz wrote, “I think I’m going to kill people,” but later tried to pass it off as a joke when another member warned him against saying things like that. His first message to the group bragged about an alleged letter he wrote to Pres. Donald Trump — one he claimed got a response. White House officials have not confirmed or denied any prior correspondence with Cruz.
“He seemed nice but also had some mental issues,” an unnamed group member told CNN. “All (I know) is that he likes guns and really hates liberals.”
Cruz opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last Wednesday, killing 17 and injuring several others. He now faces 17 counts of premeditated murder.