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Suspect in Killings Inspired by ‘The Purge,’ Officials Say

Indianapolis police have alleged that a 19-year-old man accused of three murders was inspired by Universal’s franchise “The Purge.”

According to court documents, Johnathan Cruz told a juvenile informant on May 15 that he had been “Purging,” referring to the premise of the horror film series “The Purge.” The films are set in a near-future in which the U.S. government designates a 12-hour period where all crimes, including murder, are legal.

“KM stated that that Jonathan Cruz told her about shooting and robbing several people,” the affidavit from Det. Brian Schemenaur said. “Cruz told her he had been ‘Purging.’ ‘Purging’ was in reference to the 2013 American action horror film ‘The Purge’ in which the United States government sanctioned an event in which all crimes to include rape, murder, arson, assault and theft is legal from 7 pm to 7 am the next day.”

KM also told Schemenaur that Cruz told her that he had shot a man in the back of the head and neck area two times, had seen him with a black .22 caliber revolver and had seen him with bloody clothing, according to the affidavit. The document also said Cruz had attempted to show her a video on his phone of the shooting, in which she heard gunshots and saw a body fall.

Schemenaur said that the details of KM’s account, given at police headquarters, were consistent with the the murders of Billy Boyd and Jay Higginbotham on May 12. Cruz is also accused of the May 15 murder of Joe Ruiz.

“The Purge” was Blumhouse’s first production in 2013 under its first-look deal with Universal. The sci-fi thriller, starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”), became a major success, earning $89 million globally on a $3 million budget.

The second installment, “The Purge: Anarchy,” took in $108 million worldwide. Jason Blum is producing again along with Sebastien Lemercier and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form.

Universal and Blumhouse declined to comment Thursday  in response.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said in the probable cause affidavit that the four-day spree is affiliated with criminal gang activity. He said at a news conference Wednesday that the victims appeared to be chosen at random and that no decision about seeking the death penalty would take place for at least 30 days.

After Curry announced the charges against Cruz, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett released a statement: “Senseless acts of violence such as those alleged in this case are incomprehensible, but thanks to the swift actions of IMPD detectives, Prosecutor Terry Curry and witnesses willing to come forward, we are one step closer to providing answers for these victims’ families.”

The third iteration of the franchise, “The Purge: Election Year,” opens July 1 with Elizabeth Mitchell starring as a U.S. Senator running for president on a pledge to end The Purge.

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