Police: No connection between Florida school shooter and far-right militia
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Police: No connection between Florida school shooter and far-right militia

Nikolas Cruz

Nikolas Cruz after being arrested in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018. (Broward’s Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)

(JTA) — Police in Florida said they found no connection between the Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz and a far-right paramilitary group from Tallahassee, they said.

The Anti-Defamation League said Thursday that a leader of the group had told them that Cruz had ties to the Republic of Florida secessionist group.

The leader, Jordan Jereb, said that Cruz was associated with ROF, having been “brought up” by another member, according to the ADL. Jereb also claimed that Cruz had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, carpooling with other ROF members from south Florida.

After news outlets around the nation reported Cruz’s alleged ties, Leon County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Grady Jordan told the Tallahassee Democrat that investigative work did not yield any connections.

In a post hours after speaking to ADL, a social media account bearing Jereb’s name said the whole thing was a “legit misunderstanding,” saying they have more than one member named Nikolas.

In a brief phone call with the Tallahassee Democrat, Jereb said there was “No way to put a good spin on all of this.”

“This is a negative situation,” he added before hanging up to speak with ABC News.

The ADL, in a statement to JTA, said: “On Thursday, ADL shared information gathered by our experts on extremism as well as claims from white supremacist groups that we believed could be pertinent both to law enforcement and the public due to the fluid and evolving nature of the events. Confirmation of whether Cruz was part of ROF is now in the hands of law enforcement, and that’s what the Broward sheriff’s team is looking into. ADL stands ready to assist the authorities in any way that would be helpful.”

Jereb, a self-described “right-wing extremist nut,” faced charges in 2016 after threatening a high-ranking staff member of Gov. Rick Scott’s office.

Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wednesday, investigators say, with an AR-15 and opened fire, killing 17 people and injuring 14. He faces 17 counts of premeditated murder.

At least five Jewish people were among the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland.