The troubled teen authorities say killed 17 people at a Florida high school excelled in an air-rifle marksmanship program supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation, part of a multimillion-dollar effort by the gun group to support youth shooting clubs.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was wearing a maroon shirt with the logo from the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when he was arrested Wednesday shortly after the shooting. Former JROTC cadets told The Associated Press that Cruz was a member of the small varsity marksmanship team that trained together after class and traveled to other area schools to compete.
“He was a very good shot,” said Aaron Diener, 20, who gave Cruz a ride to shooting competitions when they were part of the same four-member team in 2016. “He had an AR-15 he talked about, and pistols.” The JROTC marksmanship program used air rifles special-made for target shooting, typically on indoor ranges at targets the size of a small coin.
The Virginia-based group gave nearly $2.2 million to schools across 30 states in 2016, the most recent year for which its federal tax filings are publicly available. Of that amount, more than $400,000 was in cash grants, while nearly $1.8 million came as in-kind donations ranging from equipment for high school air rifle teams to gun safety programs for younger children. Most of the schools that receive grants are in public districts.
And here Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin thought he got all his practice in violent video games.