In late December the friends and family members of the Parkland school shooting victims started getting alarming messages through Instagram from users names such as nikolas.killed.your.sister, nikolas.the.murderer, and the.douglas.shooter:
“They had their whole lives ahead of them and I fucking stole it from them.”
“I killed your friends, baby girl”
“I took a shit on your sister’s grave,” followed by three poop emojis
“Did you like my Valentines gift? I killed your friends.”
“With the power of my AR-15, I take your loved ones away from you PERMANENTLY”
The messages, which continued through early January, were revealed in a criminal complaint filed last week in the Southern District of Florida.
The Instagram account names were obvious references to Nikolas Cruz—the confessed shooter behind the death of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—who is awaiting trial at Broward County Jail. The real person behind the threatening and unsettling messages was Brandon Fleury, according to the FBI.
Fleury also reportedly used Instagram names like “teddykillspeople”and “tedtheabductor,” apparent references the serial killer Ted Bundy, to send messages to Parkland victims’ friends and family like: “I’m your abductor... I’m kidnapping you fool’’
Fleury was arrested on the morning of January 16 in his Santa Ana, California, home that he reportedly shares with his father and brother. The suspect then reportedly admitted to making several Instagram accounts using variations of “the douglas shooter,” “nikolas the shooter,” and “bullseye” so he could post messages to “troll” victims. He stated he was specifically interested in victim’s family and friends who had gained a large social media following and who had become “activists.” Fleury claimed he wanted notoriety for this taunts. He also talked about his “fascination” with Nikolas Cruz, Ted Bundy, and other mass shooters and serial killers.
Fleury was charged on Friday with online intimidation and harassment and using interstate commerce to threaten kidnapping online. He is likely to face a federal judge next week.
Law enforcement subpoenaed Instagram, which provided the IP address of the accounts because the company saw the postings as threats of murder, as the Washington Post reported. Agents found that all the suspicious Instagram names making threats were connected to the same IP.
According to the criminal complaint, when FBI arrested Fleury at his home last week—when his father and brother were present—Fleury stated that the agents came because of “some stupid shit” he’d done on the internet.