FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The white supremacist group Republic of Florida claims Nikolas Cruz, accused of going on a shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, trained with them.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, self-described ROF members claimed on a discussion board that Cruz had been a member. The ADL contacted the ROF directly and member identified as Jordan Jereb, who they believed to be the leader, confirmed that Cruz was part of their group and brought up by another member. Jereb added that ROF had not ordered or wanted Cruz to do anything like the school shooting.
Law enforcement has not publicly confirmed if they believe Cruz was a member of the group or not.
Cruz arrived at Broward’s Main Jail early Thursday morning dressed in a hospital gown and surrounded by sheriff’s deputies.
The 19-year-old, accused in the third worst school shooting in the U.S., has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in Wednesday’s shooting. During questioning by Broward Sheriff’s investigators, Cruz confessed to the shootings.
A judge denied him bond during Thursday’s court appearance.
Cruz is accused of opening fire inside the school with an assault rifle just before dismissal.
“He shot through the windows and you could see through the blinds the bullets and all the glass was shattered,” said student Rebecca Bogart.
“All of a sudden I just heard gunshots, everyone just started running, people started jumping fences, I didn’t know what was going on,” said student Lauren Garnecki.
Seventeen people were killed, all have been identified and their families notified. In addition to the dead, 15 people were injured in the shooting.
Cruz reportedly changed his clothes and evacuated with the other students. He was taken into custody a short time later by Coconut Creek PD in a nearby neighborhood in Coral Springs. Cruz exhibited labored breathing. He was transported to a local hospital as a precaution for medical clearance.
During a news briefing Thursday morning, Governor Rick Scott said they plan to have “real conversations” about school safety and ensuring people with mental illness don’t get their hands on guns.
“The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in a school,” he said.
The governor said he wants to focus on school safety, mental health and who can have guns.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie echoed that thought.
“Now is the time for this country to have a real conversation on sensible gun control laws in this country,” he said.
When asked how Cruz, who was banned from the campus last year, managed to make it on school grounds, Runcie replied that he timed it around dismissal during which time the campus is “pretty open”.
Runcie also called for proper funding for students who suffer from mental health issues. He said it’s something that could be solved in this legislative session.
The superintendent also thanked the school administrators, staff, and teachers who acted selflessly to protect the students.
“We need to acknowledge the heroes in our school every single day. They love them and treat them as if they were their own children. They put their lives on the line every day.”
A representative from Broward Health North, where many of the injured were taken was pleased to announce that three have been discharged and they hope to sent two more home on Friday.
FBI Special Agent Rob Laskey confirmed that in 2017 they received information about a 17-year-old who posted a YouTube video saying “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” That poster was Cruz.
Sheriff Israel confirmed there was an armed school resource officer on campus at the time of the shooting, but he never encountered Cruz.
Overnight investigators searched Cruz’s home in Parkland. A lawyer for the family that lives in that home tells us Cruz moved in with them about three months ago after his mother died. Federal investigators are expected to return to that home Thursday.
Cruz had attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS but expelled from it the previous year, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Cruz had reported threatened students at the school and was barred from campus.
Many of Cruz’s posts on social media are gun and violence related. On Instagram, he posted a photo of himself with a shotgun. In another photo, he is seen with a pistol which appears to be a type of BB gun. Other pictures show him holding long knives. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel described the posts as “disturbing.”