Florida H.S. shooting suspect in court. Watch live as the 19-year-old makes his first appearance before a judge. He was booked Thursday on 17 counts of premeditated murder. Story –> http://via.fox4kc.com/odEnF
Posted by FOX4 News Kansas City on Thursday, February 15, 2018
The FBI confirmed Thursday, Feb. 15 it was alerted to disturbing comments believed to be made by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz on social media before the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead and 14 others injured. Other details are emerging connecting Cruz to white nationalist groups. The leader of a militia called the Republic of Florida said Cruz was a member of his group and participated in exercises in Tallahassee.
Jordan Jereb told The Associated Press that he had only a brief interaction a few years ago with Cruz, who came across as “a normal Florida white guy.”
Jereb said the man charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder was “brought up” by another member. He also said Cruz participated in one or more training sessions with the group by carpooling with a ROF member from Parkland, Fla.
Cruz’s affiliation with the white supremacist group apparently didn’t trigger the FBI’s radar despite a student alerting them to a concerning social media post.
“Im going to be a professional school shooter,” a YouTube user with the screen name “Nikolas Cruz” posted back in September. A student
Benjamin Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondman, was concerned enough after seeing the “professional school shooter” comment on his Youtube channel that he took a screenshot of it on his phone and called the FBI. Two FBI agents visited Bennight the next day.
The FBI said it never spoke to the Florida teen.
“No other information was included in the comment which would indicate a particular time, location or the true identity of the person who posted the comment,” said Brett Carr, a spokesman for the FBI office in Jackson, Mississippi. “The FBI conducted database reviews and other checks but was unable to further identify the person who posted the comment.”
Jereb, whose four-year-old group describes itself as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics,” noted neither he or the ROF — which borrows several concepts from the anti-government extremist militia movement — had commanded him to open fire on high school students.
In addition to the 17 killings, Cruz’s AR-15 also injured 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, Feb. 14. He was also equipped with smoke grenades and a gas mask along with magazines. After fleeing the scene, Cruz was taken into custody in a neighborhood a mile from the school.
Kiersten Will, Associated Press contributed to this story.