On 14 February, Nikolas Cruz allegedly visited the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida with his AR-15 gun and a plan to take as many lives as possible. 17 students and teachers died as a result of the attack, the motive behind which is still unclear.

A day later the Republic of Florida, a white supremacist militia, confirmed to the civil rights organisation Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that Cruz was one of its members. The statement came after various allegations of the same started to surface.

Founder and spokesperson Jordan Jereb said that Cruz was associated with the ROF and had been "brought up" by another member. The suspect had allegedly participated in at least one training exercise at Tallahassee.

Jereb did, however, stress that neither he nor ROF had instructed Cruz to carry out the mass shooting.

The 19-year-old alleged gunman's connections to the group were first brought to light by his former classmates who told ABC News that they had seen him with Jereb. Other members also mentioned on a discussion forum 4chan that Cruz was part of ROF.

Started in 2014, the ROF is a white supremacist group with an inclination towards anti-government ideas. It has adopted various concepts from the anti-government extremist militia movement, including paramilitary structures, paramilitary trainings, and uniforms.

Describing himself as a "right-wing extremist nut", Jereb founded the group in the hopes of creating a "white ethnostate" in Florida.

Nikolas Cruz
Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following the school shooting Broward County Sheriff's Office

According to the group's website, members are expected to follow a code which demands that they "pledge their lives and fortunes to the republic". Additionally, they need to swear allegiance to their race of "people of European lineage and those who consider themselves our allies".

Members cannot have sexual relations with people outside their race or of the same gender. Bestiality, paedophilia along with illegal chemical substance use is prohibited.

They also instructed members to be morally righteous, honour their word and be loyal to their race.

William Atchison
William Atchison, 21, was identified as the gunman who shot two students and injured 15 at Aztec High School in New Mexico on 7 December Police handout

The ROF has links to other extremist organisations like the Vinlanders Social Club, the League of the South and the Atomwaffen.

If investigators are able to confirm that Cruz was in fact a member, the Florida attack will become the second school shooting orchestrated by a white supremacist.

In December 2017, William Atchison opened fire at the Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico. He killed two students before committing suicide.

According to the Daily Beast, the investigation revealed that Atchison has been radicalised by white-supremacist websites like The Daily Stormer. He visited forums where he spoke in support of school shootings and even posted a comment asking where he could purchase "a cheap assault rifle".