THE teen accused of the Florida school shooting was a member of a white supremacist group and was taking part in its paramilitary drills before the massacre.

Group leader Jordan Jereb told the Associated Press that Nikolas Cruz, 19, was part of his organisation Republic of Florida, which seeks to create a white state within the US that is divorced from the modern world.

Mr Cruz would take part in the group's "spontaneous random demonstrations", according to Mr Jereb.

While authorities have not offered a motive for Mr Cruz's alleged attack - which killed 17 and injured at least 14 others - Mr Jereb indicated that heartbreak may have been behind it.

This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. Picture: Broward County Jail via AP.
This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. Picture: Broward County Jail via AP.

While Mr Jereb didn't know him personally, he said the suspected shooter had "trouble with a girl" and suggested the fact the attack came on Valentine's Day was not a coincidence.

"He acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he's solely responsible for what he just did," Mr Jereb s

THE IMPORTANCE OF REPORTING ONLINE COMMENTS

A PERSON with the same name as the teenager accused of the massacre in Florida wrote "I'm going to be a professional school shooter" in the comments section of a YouTube video five months before he opened fire on Wednesday.

Police have charged Nikolas Cruz, 19, with 17 counts of premeditated murder after he allegedly shot and killed 17 at his former high school northwest of Miami.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed on Thursday that they investigated the comment, left by someone with the username "nikolas cruz" in September, but could not verify the commenter's identity.

The comment left on a YouTube video in September. Picture: YouTube
The comment left on a YouTube video in September. Picture: YouTube

 

 

Vlogger Ben Bennight tipped the FBI off to the comment, which was left on his YouTube channel, and agents interviewed him about it twice.

"No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment," FBI special agent Robert Lasky told reporters overnight.

"The FBI conducted database reviews [and] checks but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment."

Florida's Broward County sheriff Scott Israel called on politicians to give police more power to obtain people who raise red flags on social media, like Mr Cruz did with his Instagram profile, which was littered with images of firearms, knives and dead frogs.

"What I'm asking our lawmakers to do ... is to give police the power, if they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about 'I want to grow up to be a serial killer', we need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at that particular time, involuntarily, and have them examined," he said.

THREATS OF 'COPYCAT' SHOOTINGS

Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters overnight that copycat threats had been made at other schools since Wednesday's massacre.

"Every threat we receive, we will not classify it as a copycat or a prank call. We will respond in full and investigate it," he said.

"Any fake call that's made to take our resources at a time like this and place them in places where we don't need to be, the full power of the sheriff's office will investigate this and charge people with the maximum charge we possibly could for doing something so horrific, so pathetic."

INSIDE THE MIND OF ALLEGED SHOOTER

Nikolas Cruz was filmed wearing a hospital gown after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which was most deadly since Sandy Hook. He was treated for laboured breathing and ordered to be held without bond and booked into jail.

As family and friends desperately searched for their loved ones and the first names of victims emerged, a picture began to emerge of Cruz as a troubled orphan with a violent social media presence.

Police allege Cruz, carrying a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon inside the school.

The attack came after a fire drill that morning, meaning students flooded into the hallways for the second time that day, only to have to run for their lives in fear after hearing shots.

On Thursday, the school superintendent Robert Runcie choked up during a television interview when he spoke about seeing bodies strewn inside the building, saying it was "like nothing I've ever seen in my entire life."

19-year-old Parkland, Florida, school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, according to sheriff's...

Police have not yet commented on any potential motives for Cruz or provided details of his state of mind. He had been previously expelled from the high school of 3000 students and his mother had died of pneumonia in November, according to family and friends.

The local Sun Sentinel reports Nikolas and his biological brother Zachary were adopted by their late mother, Lynda, who passed away in November last year.

Student Jaime Guttenburg was named by her family as the first victim of the school shooting. Picture: Facebook.
Student Jaime Guttenburg was named by her family as the first victim of the school shooting. Picture: Facebook.

The boys were sent to live with a family friend, however Nikolas, who was unhappy, asked to move to another friend's house in Broward and moved in around Thanksgiving last year.

The family Cruz was staying with is said to have known he had the weapon, according to lawyer Jim Lewis. It's understood Cruz was made to keep it in a locked cabinet but he also had a key.

While some have described him as a normal teen, others said Cruz was "off" and appeared troubled and depressed. Student Victoria Olvera said he was expelled because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend and claimed he had been abusive to his girlfriend.

"I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him," she said.

A former teacher said he had been named as a security threat and was asked to leave campus. His Instagram account showed images of firearms, knives and dead frogs. Fellow students said he was someone who would "punch walls" and "talk about guns a lot".

The shooting left terrified students huddling in their classrooms. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg
The shooting left terrified students huddling in their classrooms. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg

'THIS HAPPENS NOWHERE ELSE'

The tragic incident generated international headlines and led President Trump to urge people to report to authorities if they suspect something wrong.

"So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behaviour," Mr Trump tweeted. "Neighbours and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!"

The shooting is the worst US school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012 that killed 26 people. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg
The shooting is the worst US school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012 that killed 26 people. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Michele Eve Sandberg

The scene was reminiscent of the Newtown attack in December 2012 that killed 26 people including 20 first-graders at a primary school before the gunman turned the weapon on himself.

It led US Senator Chris Murphy, who represents Connecticut where the Sandy Hook shooting took place, to slam the lack of action on gun control in the years since.

"This happens nowhere else," he said in a speech. "This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here.

"Not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallels anywhere else.

"As a parent this scares me to death."

- With wires.


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