Many families are still picking up the pieces after the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018. Students lost friends and siblings, while some parents will never be able to welcome their children home from school again. Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered the school with an assortment of deadly weapons and took the lives of 17 people. As if the school and Parkland community have not already been through enough, someone has been virtually harassing them and poking fun at that tragedy, according to ABC News.
Brandon Fleury of Santa Ana, California, is believed to be behind the threatening messages. Fleury reportedly dedicated time and work to the cruel prank. He allegedly created multiple Instagram accounts to “troll” the family members and friends who lost loved ones in the shooting. The username he used to send the messages was titled “nikolas.killed.your.sister.” Fleury later admitted that he specifically targeted the relatives that have been outspoken about the incident, advocating for change and gun control. The heartless messages included “I killed your loved ones hahaha” and “With the power of my AR-15, I erased their existence.” To add insult to injury, he purportedly included emojis of handguns and smiley faces. He may have enjoyed the pain he was causing, writing, “Your grief is my pleasure.”
Fleury’s pranks have been going on for months, even reaching out to the victims on Christmas Day. During the holidays, he supposedly threatened to kidnap members of the Parkland community, writing, “I’m your abductor [smile and applauding emojis] I’m kidnapping you fool.”
Luckily, law enforcement was able to track Fleury’s IP address to his California address. He was later arrested and charged. Upon his arrest, he confessed to using his computer to send the messages, calling them more like “taunts” than “threats.” Fleury also admitted to having an obsession with school shootings. He will make an appearance in a Fort Lauderdale court on January 28.
Limited information is known thus far regarding Fleury’s life or his motivation behind the cruel pranks. However, investigators did discover that he has been through trauma of his own during his life. Reports say that Fleury lost his mother from an illness at a young age. He was also involved in a critical drunk driving accident as a child with his brother. Still, law enforcement has a lot more research to do before they can find further insight into his heartless actions.