• Broward County Sheriff(NEW YORK) -- The Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights watchdog, told ABC News they have information they believe to be credible linking Nikolas Cruz, the Florida school shooting suspect, to a white supremacist group called Republic of Florida.The ADL said ROF leader Jordan Jereb told them Cruz was associated with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tallahassee, said Cruz was brought into the group by another member and had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, the ADL said. Law enforcement officials have not confirmed the link.ROF has mostly young members in north and south Florida and describes itself as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics” and seeks to create a “white ethnostate” in Florida.Three former schoolmates of Cruz told ABC News that Cruz was part of the group. They claimed he marched with the group frequently and was often seen with Jereb, who also confirmed to ABC News that Cruz was, at least at one point, part of that group.Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in “some time” but said "he knew he would getting this call." He would not comment further but emphasized that his group was not a terrorist organization.Authorities are still digging for clues to why Cruz allegedly opened fire outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, killing 17 people.Family members, classmates and former friends described Cruz, a 19-year-old former student, as a troubled teen who was largely alone in the world when he allegedly stormed through the school carrying an AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines.He was able to leave the school after the shooting by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, but he was apprehended shortly thereafter. He has been answering questions from investigators working on the case.Cruz was adopted as an infant, but he had been living with the family of a classmate after the sudden death of his adoptive mother late last year. His adoptive father died in 2005.In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, an attorney for the family that had taken Cruz in for the past few months said Cruz was “depressed” following his mother’s death but he had been going to therapy.The family is still “shocked,” he said, that Cruz would allegedly engage in mass violence.“They indicated they saw nothing like this coming,” Lewis said. “They never saw any anger, no bad feelings about the school.”They were aware that Cruz was in possession of a military-style assault weapon, he said, which two law enforcement officials tell ABC News was legally purchased by Cruz within the past year from a federally licensed dealer. They insisted that it be locked in a safe.“He brought it into the home and it was in a locked gun safe,” Lewis said. “That was the condition when he came into their home that the gun was locked away.”Cruz’s former classmates, however, were less surprised.A student who told ABC News that he participated in Junior ROTC with Cruz described him as a “psycho.” Cruz was a well-known weapons enthusiast, the student said, who once tried to sell knives to a classmate.Another student told ABC News that before Cruz was expelled from the school he was barred from carrying a backpack on campus. The classmate said the rule was put in place after the school found bullet casings in his bag after a fight with another student.One student said Cruz even once threatened to “shoot up” the school."About a year ago I saw him upset in the morning," student Brent Black told ABC News. "And I was like, 'yo what’s wrong with you?' And he was like 'umm, don’t know.' And I was like 'what’s up with you?' He's like 'I swear to God I'll shoot up this sc
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  • @LucasDuprile/Twitter(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- After the mass shooting on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, grief counseling has been made available throughout Broward County for anyone who needs support, especially students and families.Broward County Public Schools released a list of locations, as well as phone and email lines, where people reach grief counselors.The grief counselors will also be onsite for students and staff at Westglades Middle School, according to the Broward County School District, and law enforcement will also have an increased presence at all Broward County schools.Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School remains closed for the rest of the week, but support workers are available for the staff at Parkland Library.Therapy dogs have also been enlisted in Parkland for additional comfort.K-9 comfort dogs, affiliated with Lutheran Church Charities, have already been enlisted to help families of victims, survivors, students, faculty and first responders.The dogs were invited to Parkland by Rev. Stephen Carretto of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Boca Raton, Florida, according to a LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Facebook post.Some dogs heading to help comfort the community have previously been deployed to be with victims of mass shootings in Las Vegas and Orlando. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Another mass shooting that -- this time, at a high school in Parkland, Florida -- has changed the infamous rankings of the deadliest mass shootings in the nation's modern history.On Wednesday, it was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. In November, it was in a church in Texas. In October, it was at a country music festival in Nevada.The list of the deadliest mass shootings spans 52 years and six states.Four of the five worst gun massacres on the list -- including the deadliest, at a concert in Las Vegas -— occurred in just the past year and a half.The country "has experienced an increase in mass casualty attacks" wrought by mentally troubled individuals "who commit mass murder in furtherance of some perceived grievance or ideological cause," John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security and a consultant for ABC News, said after the massacre in Las Vegas, in which 58 people were killed.ABC News has compiled a list of the 11 deadliest mass shootings, which includes some incidents that had the same death tolls.1. Route 91 Harvest Festival, Las Vegas – 58 deaths – Oct. 1, 2017Stephen Paddock, from Mesquite, Nevada, was identified by authorities as the shooter holed up in a Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino hotel suite, packing as many as 19 guns. Around 10 p.m. he opened fire on thousands of country music concert attendees across the street below, killing 58 people; more than 500 others were injured.2. Pulse nightclub, Orlando, Florida – 49 deaths – June 12, 2016Around 2 a.m. Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old former security guard, opened fire and killed 49 people who were in an Orlando gay nightclub called Pulse. During the rampage, Mateen, a U.S. citizen, was killed by responding police in a shootout. His ISIS-inspired hate crime injured more than 50 other people. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Mateen, had tried to dissuade him from committing the act. She was charged with aiding and abetting him, as well as committing obstruction. Noor Mateen has pleaded not guilty.3. Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia - 32 deaths - April 16, 2007Virginia Tech senior Seung-hui Cho, 23, purchased a 9-mm Glock handgun on March 13, 2007, and a .22-caliber gun within a week before he started shooting people at the Blacksburg campus, including five professors and 26 fellow students. The South Korean–born Cho began his rampage in a dorm room, where two students were shot and killed. According to police, he rearmed at his dorm room and left a note before going out and killing 30 more people in four classrooms, He then turned a gun on himself.4. (tied) Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut – 26 deaths – Dec. 14, 2012Adam Lanza was 20 years old when he entered Sandy Hook Elementary School wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with a semiautomatic rifle and two semiautomatic handguns — a Glock and a Sig Sauer. He breached the school by shooting out a window pane of the front office, then gunned down and killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders and six adult school staff members. Not included in the death count is Lanza's mother, Nancy Lanza, who police say was slain before he arrived at the school, as well as Adam Lanza, who took his own life at the school.4. (tied) First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas – at least 26 deaths – Nov. 5, 2017At least 26 people were killed and 20 others were injured when a shooter opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Further details of the shooting in the rural community, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, were not immediately clear.5. Luby's Cafeteria truck ramming and shooting, Killeen, Texas – 23 deaths – Oct. 16, 1991After slamming his Ford Ranger truck into the window of Luby's Cafeteria, 35-year-old George Jo Hennard said, according to The
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  • ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Students, parents and faculty at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today struggled to fathom why a former student allegedly opened fire there Wednesday, killing 17, as law enforcement officials searched for clues.Student Dakota Mutchler, 17, said he knew something was wrong when the school carried out two fire drills back-to-back."Everyone started lining up in the field like they were supposed to, and then you started seeing kids running," the junior student told ABC News. "It became clear that it was no longer a drill. It was the real thing."Authorities arrested 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman over disciplinary problems, in the aftermath of what has become the deadliest school shooting since an attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.The suspect slipped away from the Parkland, Florida, high school campus by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. Cruz was eventually apprehended in Coral Springs, just outside Parkland and about 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale.Cruz had an AR-15-style rifle that had apparently been legally purchased, according to a law enforcement official briefed of the investigation.Mutchler said he knew the suspect but had stopped speaking to him when Cruz began to display violence toward others.Cruz would often post videos on social media of his killing or harming animals, Mutchler said, adding that the suspect also threatened a female friend of his once."Everyone in school, like those that knew him, speculated about him," Mutchler continued. "He got suspended a lot of times and he sold knives in his lunch boxes and he was expelled, but no one expected him to come back and shoot. He started progressively getting a little more weird and I kind of cut off from him because I felt like he was a bad influence on me."The suspect tried adding Mutchler on Snapchat a few weeks ago, but he "just declined it because I didn't want to talk to him."Others students on the scene who knew Cruz described him as someone with a penchant for weapons and violence and that he'd talked about having "target practice in his backyard" with a pellet gun."He was in my class in seventh grade," Gabrielle Pupo, a survivor of the attack, told reporters Wednesday night. "I knew he wasn't OK when he punched the window in and said, 'I'm gonna cause karma one day,' because he got in trouble with the teacher."Pupo said she saw Cruz shoot a faculty member and coach at the school, Aaron Feis."I heard the shots, and then I saw the shooter run after Mr. Feis, and I saw Mr. Feis get shot," Pupo said. "Today he tried blending into the crowd and was talking to one of my friends as he was exiting.""He was very focused on what he was doing," she added.Cruz was booked into the Broward County Jail and charged with 17 counts of pre-meditated murder.Students and parents were still close to the scene at the large high school several hours after the shooting, waiting for updates from police. Some were seen kneeling and crying while others held pictures of missing classmates.Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old senior, said she was also looking for two friends who went missing after the tragedy."We called her family and they don't know either," Olvera said, holding up a picture of a "close friend" believed to be in the freshman building when the shooting happened. "It's not real. It doesn’t feel real at all.”Witnesses reported a barrage of gunfire around 2:40 p.m., near dismissal time. Video posted on social media showed students were fleeing from the shooting with their hands in the air. One student said he had to climb a fence to escape."My teacher thought it was a firecracker, but then a gunshot went off again, so I started running out of my class," a student, who only gave his first name, Amar, said in an Instagram post. He said his teacher tried to usher him back into the classroom, but he was afraid of ge
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  • Barrow County Sheriff's Office(BARROW COUNTY, Ga.) -- As Georgia investigators released a video showing sheriff's deputies using a stun gun to subdue a handcuffed 400-pound man who died during a struggle at a jail, the man's distraught mother told ABC News, "I want justice for my son," and voiced suspicion over the scenario authorities say led to his death.The video of Charles Williams, 30, being hit with a stun gun in the back of a parked police cruiser at the Barrow County Detention Center in January was made public this week by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is tasked with determining if the use of force on Williams was a criminal act.But Williams' mother, Mary Sojka, told ABC News that after watching the video, she believes the force sheriff's deputies used on her 6-foot-4, 400-pound son "was excessive.""Now, I'm pissed off about the whole thing because of what they did to him," Sojka said in an emotional phone interview on Wednesday. "Now, I'm angry because I don't want this to happen to any other mother."Williams death occurred on Jan. 27 after he was arrested in Auburn, Georgia, on suspicion of battery on a woman and cruelty to children, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.The probe determined that Williams was arrested without incident, handcuffed with his hands behind his back and placed in the rear of a police car.During the 10-minute ride to the Barrow County Detention Center in nearby Winder, "Williams became combative as his transport vehicle arrived at the detention center," investigators said in the statement."Once in the sally port of the jail, he began kicking the interior of the patrol vehicle. Williams managed to move his handcuffs from behind his back to his front," the statement reads. "Barrow County Sheriff’s Office personnel attempted to talk Williams out of the vehicle, but he continued to be belligerent."In a nine-minute video released by investigators and viewed by ABC News, a sheriff's deputy tells Williams, "Sir, you're gonna be be tased if you don't cooperate."The footage, shot with a handheld camera, shows one deputy opening the rear door of the police car, and another crawling through the rear door on the opposite side of the vehicle."Tase him!" one of the deputies yells and a stun gun shot is heard emanating from inside the car. Williams is heard in the video screaming and shouting obscenities at deputies, and continuing to struggle and kick as they wrestle him out of the car and onto the ground."Calm down," one of the deputies repeatedly tells Williams.At least five deputies pile on top of Williams and at least one appears to punch him in the stomach, the video shows.About seven minutes into the video, Williams suddenly stops moving and goes limp as deputies shout at him to "Wake up!" Toward the end of the footage, a deputy shouts, "Start CPR," as sirens are heard in the background.Williams was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, where he was pronounced dead.Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials said Wednesday that the probe into Williams death is ongoing. They said an autopsy was performed on Jan. 30, but final results are pending more tests."I've been shocked throughout this whole ordeal," Sojka said of her son's death. "They wouldn't even let me go see my son in the hospital. They wouldn't even tell me what hospital he was in. I later found out it was only 10 minutes from my house."She said she last saw her son several weeks before he died."The next time I saw my son, it was at the funeral home and I could only see his face sticking out of a body bag," she told ABC News.She said her son had no known heart problems or any medical conditions that would have exacerbated his death."He was just a big dude. He was a protector of people. He would go out of his way for friends or anybody. He would give his shirt off his back," she said. "I'm gonna miss him picking me up and giving me bear hugs. He was bigger than life. He had a large jo
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  • ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida gathered near campus late Wednesday night, hoping for updates on their friends and classmates, as police continued to investigate the mass shooting that took place a few hours earlier.Police were combing the school and social media for clues on what may have caused the suspect to storm the school with an AR-15 rifle, fatally shoot at least 17 people and injure more than a dozen. Victims included students and adults, police said.Authorities arrested 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was expelled from Marjory Stoneman over disciplinary problems, in the aftermath of what has become the deadliest school shooting since an attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.The suspect slipped away from the Parkland, Florida, high school campus by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. Cruz later was apprehended in Coral Springs, just outside Parkland and about 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale.Students and parents were still close to the scene at Marjory Stoneman, a school with about 3,000 students, several hours after the shooting, waiting for updates from police. Some were seen kneeling and crying while others held pictures of missing classmates.One student at the scene, 17-year-old junior Dakota Mutchler, said he knew something was wrong when the school carried out two fire drills back-to-back, which he said "was odd because they don't do two fire drills in the same day.""Everyone started lining up in the field like they were supposed to, and then you started seeing kids running," Mutchler told ABC News late Wednesday. "It became clear that it was no longer a drill. It was the real thing."Mutchler, desperate for information on two missing friends, said knew the suspect but that they stopped speaking when Cruz began to act violent towards others.Cruz would often post videos on social media of his killing or harming animals, said Mutchler, adding that the suspect also threatened a female friend of his once."Everyone in school, like those that knew him, speculated about him," Mutchler continued. "He got suspended a lot of times and he sold knives in his lunch boxes and he was expelled, but no one expected him to come back and shoot. He started progressively getting a little more weird and I kind of cut off from him because I felt like he was a bad influence on me."The suspect tried adding Mutchler on on Snapchat a few weeks ago, but he "just declined it because I didn't want to talk to him."Others students on the scene who knew Cruz described him as someone with a penchant for weapons and violence and that he'd talked about having "target practice in his backyard" with a pellet gun."He was in my class in seventh grade," Gabrielle Pupo, a survivor of the attack, told reporters Wednesday night. "I knew he wasn't OK when he punched the window in and said, 'I'm gonna cause karma one day,' because he got in trouble with the teacher."Pupo said she saw Cruz shoot a faculty member and coach at the school, Aaron Feis."I heard the shots, and then I saw the shooter run after Mr. Feis, and I saw Mr. Feis get shot," Pupo said. "Today he tried blending into the crowd and was talking to one of my friends as he was exiting.""He was very focused on what he was doing," she added.Pupo, who came to the scene Wednesday night to light candles for two missing friends, is one of the many students holding out hope as police work inside to identify the victims.Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old senior, said she was also looking for two friends who went missing after the tragedy."We called her family and they don't know either," Olvera said, holding up a picture of a "close friend" believed to be in the freshman building when the shooting happened. "It's not real. It doesn’t feel real at all.”Witnesses reported a barrage of gunfire around 2:40 p.m., near dismissal time. Video posted on social media showed stud
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