Within hours of 17 people being shot at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Republic of Florida leader Jordan Jereb claimed credit for having trained with the shooter
Those comments caught the attention of the FBI, which used them as the basis for a search warrant of Jereb’s Tallahassee home four weeks later.
The federal search warrant, obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center via a public records request, allowed federal agents to search for and seize documents, computer files, phones, pictures or videos and records indicating whether or not 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was a member of the Republic of Florida.
While it isn’t clear if any information pertaining to Cruz, who is charged with murder for the fatal shooting at the south Florida high school, turned up, Probation Officer Lorne Smith did find two KA 6 tactical knives inside the home Jereb shared with his mother.
Officers arrested Jereb on a probation violation and he remains in the Leon County, Florida, jail without bail as court proceedings wind on.
Police say Cruz took an AR-15 rifle into his former school, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, on February 14 and killed 17 people before dropping the weapon and briefly escaping in the mass of fleeing students.
Jereb jumped out in front of the story, claiming to multiple media outlets that Cruz was a member of the Republic of Florida (ROF) and trained with the group, despite the 450 miles between the Fort Lauderdale suburb and the state capitol in Florida.
Jereb offered news outlets no proof of the claim, but several ran with it, taking what started as a joke in racist “alt-right” forums and injecting it into the mainstream media bloodstream.
For some on the alt-right, Jereb’s claim became a much-celebrated moment of duping the mainstream media.
Others on the far-right fell for the joke. Noted troll Andrew Anglin ran with the notion that Cruz was affiliated with Jereb and ROF and paid particular attention to Jereb’s apparent espousal of iconography associated with the violence-prone neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division.
But, the claim was actually a joke among the far-right that started on 4Chan. The concept was to tell a reporter that Cruz was a violent alt-right adherent and white supremacist to see if someone goes for the spin.
Jereb’s name surfaced for reporters because some posters in the alt-right trolling sphere get a kick out of mocking him.
Warrant and arrest
While Jereb may have gotten a laugh out of duping reporters, his comments got the attention of the FBI. Along with Jereb’s own history of multiple arrests — he was on probation for extortion and making threats — and involvement with a would-be militia and white separatist group were enough for U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Stampelos to issue the search warrant on March 19 and agents to execute it two days later.
The conditions of Jereb’s probation stemming from the extortion case barred him from having any weapons, including knives.
Once inside the house, investigators removed computers and a variety of paperwork. They also found the two knives — a probation violation.
The warrant also allowed investigators to seize almost anything — papers, emails, chat logs, etc.) that might contain a reference to Cruz.
Also covered by the warrant was “evidence of who used, owned, or controlled” computers or smart phones at the time the warrant was issued, as well as evidence of software such as viruses or programs that would allow IP addresses to be concealed on a device.
As for Jereb and the Republic of Florida, both have been quiet since the group’s leader went to jail.