PARKLAND, Fla. (AP/CBS) — The leader of a white nationalist militia says Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee.
On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) spoke with Republic of Florida (ROF) leader Jordan Jereb about Cruz's involvement with the organization.
Jereb told the ADL that Cruz had carpooled "with other ROF members from south Florida" to participate in the training exercises. Cruz was "brought up" by another member of the group.
Jereb told The Associated Press that his group wants Florida to become its own white ethno-state. He said his group holds "spontaneous random demonstrations" and tries not to participate in the modern world.
Jereb said he didn't know Cruz personally and that "he acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he's solely responsible for what he just did."
He also said he had "trouble with a girl" and he believed the timing of the attack, carried out on Valentine's Day, wasn't a coincidence.
According to the ADL, the ROF describes itself as a "white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics." The group is only a few years old.
Nineteen-year-old Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the shooting. The former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student wounded more than two dozen others in the attack.