A 19-year-old Indiana man was charged with felony murder Wednesday in the shooting deaths of three people during a four-day crime spree that police likened to the plot of the 2013 horror movie "The Purge."
Johnathan Cruz, also known as "Sav Hunna," was held on $200,000 pending an initial hearing Thursday on the murder counts and various other counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, taking property by force, intimidation with a deadly weapon and pointing a firearm at another person, according to Marion County Superior Court records.
Prosecutors alleged Wednesday that Cruz killed three people — identified as Billy Boyd and Jay Higginbotham, who were killed May 12, and Jose Alberto Ruiz, who was killed May 15 — whom he apparently chose at random.
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Cruz was arrested while already in custody on separate charges of criminal confinement, kidnapping and battery in connection with a an alleged drug deal gone bad, according to court records.
According to an Indiana police affidavit, a juvenile witness described as a drug customer told officers that Cruz boasted that he was going on a "purge."
Investigators said that was a reference to the movie whose plot turns on a fictional federal law legalizing all crime for 12 hours one day a year.
Three pages of exhibits filed in support of the charges allege that Cruz is a street gang leader with an animus toward black people.
The exhibits — which include social media posts and text messages under his "Sav Hunna" alias — include numerous uses of the N-word, photos and videos of Cruz flashing gang signs and documentation of phone calls and text messages in which he allegedly brags about the killing spree.
In one of the text messages, to a woman described as Cruz's girlfriend, he allegedly wrote: "U Better go on Face book and watch da videos of me shootin people I Purge every night now Since im dieing someone else Has to Alot Of people [expletive] dat"
Much of the information in the exhibits refers to details of the investigation that hadn't previously been made public and could have been known only by the gunman, police said.
Cruz's alleged victims "appeared to be 100 percent random," Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said at a news conference Wednesday.
"Just when you think you can't experience anything more inexplicable and shocking as we frequently do, you are then confronted with circumstances that almost leave you at a loss for words," Curry said.
Alex Johnson is a reporter and editor for NBC News based in Los Angeles.