Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Florida school shooter denied bail, belonged to white nationalist group

Published:Thursday | February 15, 2018 | 2:11 PM
Photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. - Ap Photo
In this frame grab from video provided by WPLG-TV, police take Nikolas Cruz into Broward County jail on Thursday. – Ap Photo

PARKLAND, Florida (AP):
Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz has been denied bail in connection with the shooting at a Florida High School on Wednesday that left 17 people dead.

He briefly appeared in a Florida court today to answer to 17 counts of first degree murder.

Cruz legally purchased the AR-15 rifle used in the assault at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. 

The orphaned 19-year-old is said to have participated in paramilitary drills with a white nationalist group.

As the criminal case against the suspect took shape, the leader of a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida said Cruz was a member of his group and participated in exercises in Tallahassee.

Jordan Jereb told The Associated Press that he did not know Cruz personally and that "he acted on his own behalf" and is "solely responsible for what he just did."

The group wants Florida to become its own white ethno-state. Jereb said his organisation holds "spontaneous random demonstrations" and tries not to participate in the modern world.

He also said Cruz had "trouble with a girl" and that he believed the timing of the attack, on Valentine's Day, was not a coincidence.

In a national address from the White House, President Donald Trump said he wanted America's children to know, "You are never alone, and you never will be."

He said no child should have to go to school in fear of getting killed. He planned to travel to Florida meet with victims' families, explore how to better secure schools and to "tackle the difficult issue of mental health."

At no point did Trump mention guns or how to control them.