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Florida High School Shooting: Assist, Greenwald

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[5]

Repub­lic of Flori­da

COMMENT: In the wake of the Flori­da high school shoot­ing, an under-report­ed aspect of the killings con­cerns accused shoot­er Niko­las Cruz’s par­tic­i­pa­tion (includ­ing weapons train­ing and polit­i­cal indoc­tri­na­tion) with the Repub­lic of Flori­da. The ROF is ” . . . a white suprema­cist group . . . .” It describes itself:  “. . . .  as a ‘white civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing for white iden­ti­tar­i­an pol­i­tics’ and seeks to cre­ate a ‘white eth­nos­tate’ in Flori­da. . . .”

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est in analy­sis of the Flori­da shoot­ing is the advo­ca­cy on the part of ROF leader Jor­dan Jereb for the “lone wolf/leaderless resis­tance” strat­e­gy: ” . . . . A train­ing video the group post­ed online shows mem­bers prac­tic­ing mil­i­tary maneu­vers in cam­ou­flage cloth­ing and salut­ing each oth­er, along with music with the lyric: ‘They call me Nazi / and I’m proud of it.’ In the weeks before the attack, on Gab, a social media net­work some­times used by white nation­al­ists, Jereb had recent­ly praised Nor­we­gian mass killer Anders Breivik as a ‘hero.’ He also post­ed a dia­grammed strat­e­gy for using the Repub­lic of Flori­da mili­tia to cre­ate ‘lone wolf activists.’ . . . .”

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Niko­las Cruz (insert at left)

Sev­er­al con­sid­er­a­tions to be weighed in con­nec­tion with the inci­dent:

 1.  “Flori­da school shoot­ing sus­pect linked to white suprema­cist group: ADL” by Aaron Kater­sky, Noor Ibrahim, Josh Mar­golin, Bri­an Epstein; ABC News; 02/15/2018 [11]

The Anti-Defama­tion League, a civ­il rights watch­dog, told ABC News they have infor­ma­tion they believe to be cred­i­ble link­ing Niko­las Cruz, the Flori­da school shoot­ing sus­pect, to a white suprema­cist group called Repub­lic of Flori­da.The ADL said ROF leader Jor­dan Jereb told them Cruz was asso­ci­at­ed with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tal­la­has­see, said Cruz was brought into the group by anoth­er mem­ber and had par­tic­i­pat­ed in one or more ROF train­ing exer­cis­es in the Tal­la­has­see area, the ADL said. Law enforce­ment offi­cials have not con­firmed the link.

ROF has most­ly young mem­bers in north and south Flori­da and describes itself as a “white civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing for white iden­ti­tar­i­an pol­i­tics” and seeks to cre­ate a “white eth­nos­tate” in Flori­da.

Three for­mer school­mates of Cruz told ABC News that Cruz was part of the group. They claimed he marched with the group fre­quent­ly and was often seen with Jereb, who also con­firmed to ABC News that Cruz was, at least at one point, part of that group.

Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spo­ken to Cruz in “some time” but said “he knew he would get­ting this call.” He would not com­ment fur­ther but empha­sized that his group was not a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion.

Fam­i­ly mem­bers, class­mates and for­mer friends described Cruz, a 19-year-old for­mer stu­dent, as a trou­bled teen who was large­ly alone in the world when he alleged­ly stormed through the school car­ry­ing an AR-15 rifle and mul­ti­ple mag­a­zines.

He was able to leave the school after the shoot­ing by blend­ing in with oth­er stu­dents who were try­ing to escape, but he was appre­hend­ed short­ly there­after. He has been answer­ing ques­tions from inves­ti­ga­tors work­ing on the case.

Cruz was adopt­ed as an infant, but he had been liv­ing with the fam­i­ly of a class­mate after the sud­den death of his adop­tive moth­er late last year. His adop­tive father died in 2005.

In an inter­view with ABC News’ George Stephanopou­los, an attor­ney for the fam­i­ly that had tak­en Cruz in for the past few months said Cruz was “depressed” fol­low­ing his mother’s death but he had been going to ther­a­py.

The fam­i­ly is still “shocked,” he said, that Cruz would alleged­ly engage in mass vio­lence.

“They indi­cat­ed they saw noth­ing like this com­ing,” Lewis said. “They nev­er saw any anger, no bad feel­ings about the school.”

They were aware that Cruz was in pos­ses­sion of a mil­i­tary-style assault weapon, he said, which two law enforce­ment offi­cials tell ABC News was legal­ly pur­chased by Cruz with­in the past year from a fed­er­al­ly licensed deal­er. They insist­ed that it be locked in a safe.

“He brought it into the home and it was in a locked gun safe,” Lewis said. “That was the con­di­tion when he came into their home that the gun was locked away.”

Cruz’s for­mer class­mates, how­ev­er, were less sur­prised.

A stu­dent who told ABC News that he par­tic­i­pat­ed in Junior ROTC with Cruz described him as a “psy­cho.” Cruz was a well-known weapons enthu­si­ast, the stu­dent said, who once tried to sell knives to a class­mate.

Anoth­er stu­dent told ABC News that before Cruz was expelled from the school he was barred from car­ry­ing a back­pack on cam­pus. The class­mate said the rule was put in place after the school found bul­let cas­ings in his bag after a fight with anoth­er stu­dent.

One stu­dent said Cruz even once threat­ened to “shoot up” the school.

“About a year ago I saw him upset in the morn­ing,” stu­dent Brent Black told ABC News. “And I was like, ‘yo what’s wrong with you?’ And he was like ‘umm, don’t know.’ And I was like ‘what’s up with you?’ He’s like ‘I swear to God I’ll shoot up this school.’ And then I was like ‘watch what you’re say­ing around me,’ and then I just left him after that. He came up to me lat­er on the day and apol­o­gized for what he said.”

On Thurs­day, the FBI issued a state­ment say­ing that it was alert­ed in 2017 to a threat on YouTube by some­one who said “I am going to be a school shoot­er.”

“In Sep­tem­ber 2017, the FBI received infor­ma­tion about a com­ment made on a YouTube chan­nel. The com­ment said, “I’m going to be a pro­fes­sion­al school shoot­er.” 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. The FBI con­duct­ed data­base reviews and oth­er checks, but was unable to fur­ther iden­ti­fy the per­son who post­ed the com­ment.”

Accord­ing to Broward Coun­ty Sher­iff Scott Israel, inves­ti­ga­tors have already found some “dis­turb­ing” con­tent on social media that could have pro­vid­ed warn­ing signs.

“We have already begun to dis­sect his web­sites and things on social media that he was on, and some of the things that have come to mind are very, very dis­turb­ing,” Israel said.

The pho­tos post­ed on an Insta­gram account law enforce­ment sources tell ABC News belongs to the sus­pect­ed shoot­er shows a young man dis­play­ing an arse­nal of weapons.

2. “Attor­ney: Flori­da shoot­ing sus­pect is ‘sad, mourn­ful, remorse­ful’ and ‘a bro­ken human being’” by Matt Pearce, Mol­ly Hen­nessy-Fiske and Jen­ny Jarvie; The Los Ange­les Times; 02/15/2018 [12]

The expelled stu­dent accused of killing 17 peo­ple at his for­mer South Flori­da high school is “sad, mourn­ful, remorse­ful” and “he’s just a bro­ken human being,” one of his attor­neys told reporters Thurs­day.

After a judge ordered Niko­las Cruz, 19, held with­out bond as he faces 17 counts of pre­med­i­tat­ed mur­der, defense attor­ney Melis­sa McNeil said that Cruz was “ful­ly aware of what is going on,” but had a trou­bled back­ground and lit­tle per­son­al sup­port in his life before the attack.

Cruz appeared via video, in an orange jump­suit and with his head slight­ly bowed, for an ini­tial Broward Coun­ty court hear­ing Thurs­day.

Mean­while, inves­ti­ga­tors were scour­ing Cruz’s social media posts for pos­si­ble motives or warn­ing signs of the attack. Sev­er­al social media accounts bear­ing Cruz’s name revealed a young man fas­ci­nat­ed by guns who appeared to sig­nal his inten­tions to attack a school long before the event.

Nine months ago, a YouTube user with the han­dle “niko­las cruz” post­ed a com­ment on a Dis­cov­ery UK doc­u­men­tary about the gun­man in the 1966 Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas shoot­ing that read, “I am going to what he did.”

Oth­er past com­ments by YouTube users with Cruz’s name report­ed­ly includ­ed one remark in Sep­tem­ber, say­ing: “Im going to be a pro­fes­sion­al school shoot­er.” At a news brief­ing in Flori­da, Robert Lasky, the FBI spe­cial agent in charge, con­firmed that the FBI had inves­ti­gat­ed that com­ment. But he said the agency couldn’t iden­ti­fy the per­son in ques­tion.

In anoth­er post on Insta­gram, where he post­ed pho­tos of him­self in masks and with guns, Cruz wrote anti-Mus­lim slurs and appar­ent­ly mocked the Islam­ic phrase “Allahu Akbar,” which means God is great­est.

Con­fu­sion also swirled after the leader of a white nation­al­ist mili­tia said that Cruz had trained with his armed group, a claim that drew wide atten­tion but could not be imme­di­ate­ly ver­i­fied.

The leader of the Repub­lic of Flori­da mili­tia, Jor­dan Jereb, told researchers at the Anti-Defama­tion League that Cruz had been “brought up” into the group by one of its mem­bers, the ADL said in a blog post. ABC News also claimed to have spo­ken to three peo­ple who ver­i­fied Cruz’s mem­ber­ship, but some white nation­al­ists expressed con­cern that the news out­let may have been tar­get­ed by a coor­di­nat­ed hoax.

The Repub­lic of Flori­da calls itself “a white civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing for white iden­ti­tar­i­an pol­i­tics” on its web­site, adding that its “cur­rent short-term goals are to occu­py urban areas to recruit sub­ur­ban young whites” in pur­suit of “the ulti­mate cre­ation of a white eth­nos­tate.”

A train­ing video the group post­ed online shows mem­bers prac­tic­ing mil­i­tary maneu­vers in cam­ou­flage cloth­ing and salut­ing each oth­er, along with music with the lyric: “They call me Nazi / and I’m proud of it.”

In the weeks before the attack, on Gab, a social media net­work some­times used by white nation­al­ists, Jereb had recent­ly praised Nor­we­gian mass killer Anders Breivik as a “hero.” He also post­ed a dia­grammed strat­e­gy for using the Repub­lic of Flori­da mili­tia to cre­ate “lone wolf activists.”

Jereb lat­er told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press that he didn’t know Cruz per­son­al­ly and that the group had no knowl­edge of his plans for the vio­lent attack. “He act­ed on his own behalf of what he just did, and he’s sole­ly respon­si­ble for what he just did,” Jereb said.