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Dubious Report That Florida Shooter Was White Supremacist Apparently Started With 4Chan Prank

In the hours and days following incidents like the tragic school shooting at a South Florida high school on Wednesday, incomplete and inaccurate reports tend to quickly flood social media and news outlets. On Thursday, the American Defamation League (ADL) connected the 19-year-old suspected shooter to a white supremacist Florida-based group called Republic of Florida.

“A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) claimed to the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday, February 15, that Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with the previous day’s deadly shooting spree at a Parkland, Florida, high school, was associated with his group,” reported the ADL.

Other major outlets, too, picked up the story and ran with it as a “confirmed” report.

But this alleged “connection” has fallen apart just as quickly as it was posted. Florida law enforcement officials, for example, have come out in opposition to the reporting, clarifying that the shooter has “no known ties” to ROF.

And it now appears users of 4Chan, a discussion forum seemingly dominated by the alt-right, are taking credit for duping the media into the false reporting.

“Jordan Fash” via “the right stuff” explained the alleged prank thus:

Jordan Jereb is a meme in the chat. We f*** with him on his live call in shows and he even hangs around in our group chat

shooting happens and autist from group goes on the shooter’s Instagram

ABC news reporter contacts the autist and he tells her that he knew the shooter. He gives her some other people’s numbers and they prank call her telling her that Cruz was a chubby chaser,always saying “read siege faggot”, and other spicy memes.

ABC blows up Jordan’s hotline and he knew it was our group so he played along. He said he wasn’t a member but only an affiliate and that he has some pictures.

we laugh our asses off and go to bed. We wake up and its international news

Jordan Jerab was the man who reportedly told the ADL that the alleged shooter was a member of the white nationalist group.

Jerab has since said on social media platform Gab that he was confused by the questions asked by reporters and misspoke concerning ROF and the alleged shooter:

When some questioned the account of the 4Chan prank in the comment section, “Jordan Fash” posted screenshots of what he presented as correspondence between an ABC reporter and an alt-right troll duping her into false information about the alleged shooter and ROF.

[[{“fid”:”30391″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Screenshot: The Right Stuff “},”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“1”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Screenshot: The Right Stuff “}},”attributes”:{“title”:”Screenshot: The Right Stuff “,”class”:”media-element file-default”,”data-delta”:”1″}}]]

[[{“fid”:”30392″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Screenshot: The Right Stuff”},”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“2”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:”Screenshot: The Right Stuff”}},”attributes”:{“title”:”Screenshot: The Right Stuff”,”class”:”media-element file-default”,”data-delta”:”2″}}]]

The ADL has since offered the following “update”:

UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, following news reports of the alleged association between Cruz and the Republic of Florida, a member of an alt right discussion forum wrote that all of the claims were false and were part of an elaborate attempt to troll a network news reporter and other media outlets. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, the Broward County sheriff said a connection was “not confirmed at this time,” but that law enforcement was still investigating.

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