A Santa Ana man is facing federal charges after bombarding loved ones of victims killed in the Parkland school massacre with threats and harassment over the Christmas holiday and into this month, prosecutors said.
Brandon Fleury was charged with interstate threats and cyberstalking following an FBI investigation into a series of intimidating messages he began sending via Instagram on Dec. 22, according to a criminal complaint filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Florida.
The targets included siblings, friends and parents of those who lost their lives last year on Feb. 14 when alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, ultimately killing 17. It's among the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
Fleury allegedly delivered repeated taunts and threats by mentioning his targets' accounts with the "@" sign, and used numerous different accounts, knowing that messages "cheering the deaths of their loved ones and, among other things, asking them to cry" would be flagged for removal, officials said.
Starting around midnight on Dec. 22, Fleury began using the account "nikolas.killed.your.sister." to post statements including "I killed your loved ones hahaha"; "With the power of my AR-15, I erased their existence," followed by smiling, applause and handgun emojis; and "I took a sh— on your sister's grave," followed by a crying-while-laughing emoji, an applause emoji and three poop emojis, according to the complaint.
He allegedly sent one victim's brother a direct message stating: "I killed your sister, it was fun[.] She had her whole life ahead of her and I f—ing stole it from her. Hahaha[.] Wanna beat my a—? Come on, [recipient's first name]. How f—ing bad do you wanna beat the sh— out of me? Want me to get the death penalty?"
Similar messages were posted by users including "bullseyetauntsyou_" and "nik.taunts_" the evening of Dec. 24.
On Christmas Day, Fleury is accused of sending kidnapping threats that referenced infamous serial killer Ted Bundy via usernames "teddykillspeople" and "tedtheabductor." Investigators said he told the victims "I'm your abductor" and "I killed Janice Ott and Denise Naslund," referencing two women killed by Bundy in 1974.
The harassment picked back up on New Year's Eve, and on the night of Jan. 9 Fleury allegedly used three separate accounts to post a barrage of references to Scott Beigel, a teacher who died in the Parkland massacre, and the AR-15 used to kill him.
Similar messages continued through Jan. 11. At least five of the Instagram accounts sending them were tied to the same IP address assigned to the Santa Ana home where Fleury resides with his father and brother, investigators said.
When the FBI served a search warrant there around 6 a.m. last Wednesday, Fleury "made spontaneous statements to the effect that the agents were there because of 'some stupid sh—' he had done on the internet," the complaint states.
Authorities allege that Fleury subsequently admitted to posting at least some of the messages "to taunt or 'troll' the victims and gain popularity," and that he specifically targeted family members known for their activism and with a large social media following.
Investigators said he also described a "fascination" with Nikolas Cruz, Ted Bundy and other mass shooters and serial killers. Agents also stated that Fleury didn't show remorse, but asserted that he had no plans to follow through with any of the threats.
The FBI seized a tablet they say he admitted to using to commit the crimes.
Fleury is scheduled to appear in court in Fort Lauderdale next Monday, Jan. 28, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The Sentinel reported it spoke briefly via phone with Fleury’s father, Patrick, who would not comment on whether his son remained in police custody or had an attorney.
“Sorry, better luck next time,” he told the newspaper. “Bunch of nonsense.”
Editor's note: Some messages and statements quoted from the complaint have been modified to remove coarse language.