Facebook groups have reportedly attracted empathizers discussing how to “help” Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged in the killings of 17 people in last month’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
One now-secret Facebook group, which at one point had up to 300 members, rallied support for Cruz and used the hashtag #NikFam, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Wednesday. In the group, one woman asked members to contribute photos for a collage to be sent to Cruz in jail.
Another Facebook group, public with 1,000 members, included comments from people who expressed they want to “save” Cruz, for whom prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Some members also sold merchandise with the shooter’s name.
Meanwhile, Cruz is receiving “fan mail,” photographs, and money while he’s being held in Broward County jail, according to the Sun-Sentinel. This includes letters and photographs from teenage girls, women, and men.
Additionally, $800 has been deposited into Cruz’s commissary account. Inmates can use the accounts to buy snacks, personal hygiene products, radios, and coffee.
Cruz is on suicide watch and has reportedly not seen any of the fan letters, which are opened by jail officials.
“In my 40 years as public defender, I’ve never seen this many letters to a defendant,” said Cruz’s lawyer, public defender Howard Finkelstein. “Everyone now and then gets a few, but nothing like this.”
He added: “The letters shake me up because they are written by regular, everyday teenage girls from across the nation.”
Authorities have determined that Cruz used an AR-15 in the shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.