A 22-year-old California man has been convicted of threatening and cyberstalking the friends and families of those killed in the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school.
A federal jury in Florida on Tuesday found Brandon Michael Fleury guilty of three counts of cyberstalking and one count of transmitting a kidnapping threat. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors said Fleury used online aliases — including the name of the confessed Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz and notorious serial killer Ted Bundy — while targeting and harassing his victims via 13 different Instagram accounts over the course of three weeks.
The online threats began in late December of 2018, roughly 10 months after the February 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 people dead.
“Did you like my Valentines gift? I killed your friends,” one message read, according to a copy of the criminal complaint.
“With the power of my AR-15, I erased their existence,” read another.
“They had their whole lives ahead of them and I fucking stole it from them,” read another that included crying-while-laughing emoji.
Authorities said they tracked the messages down to an address in Santa Ana, California, where Fleury lived with his father and brother. A search of the home uncovered thousands of images of Bundy, Fleury’s targeted victims, and screenshots of his messages.
Upon questioning, prosecutors said Fleury admitted to targeting the family members of shooting victims who were “activists” with large social media presences. He said he did this to gain popularity.
According to the complaint, Fleury did not show remorse for posting the comments but said he would not follow through on various kidnapping threats he made — including “I’m your abductor I’m kidnapping you fool” — which he said were “more like taunts.”
Fleury’s defense team argued that his autism prevented him from empathizing with the victims and understanding that they were afraid, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
His father reportedly testified about this, as did an autism expert. They described him as an isolated young man who played with stuffed animals all day.
Fleury is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2.
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