Former classmates of Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old who was formally charged Friday in federal court with leaking classified documents, described him as an odd kid who was interested in guns, the military and war.
“I could never have foreseen him doing that,” said John Powell, a former high school classmate.
Teixeira grew up in the suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island, according to public records and graduated from Dighton-Rehoboth High School in neighboring Massachusetts in 2020.
He toted around a “dictionary-sized” book on firearms and another about “tanks, planes and submarines,” former classmates told CNN. But others said he made them feel uneasy. He made comments some perceived as racist and showed up for school after the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas wearing a shirt emblazoned with an AR-15.
“A lot of people were wary of him,” said Brooke Cleathero, a former classmate in both high school and middle school. Another former classmate said his behavior did not rise to the level where people felt the need to report him, but “he made me nervous.”
According to a probable cause affidavit unsealed Friday, investigators believe Teixeira posted national defense information and other classified documents on a social media platform.
Though the platform is not specified in the affidavit it has been identified by media outlets, including CNN, as Discord. Teixeira had access to the documents as part of his job in cyber defense operations with the Air National Guard for which he would have had to sign a “lifetime binding non-disclosure agreement,” the affidavit stated.
FBI agents interviewed at least one person who said a young man later identified as Teixeira began posting “what appeared to be classified information” on a server in December. The unidentified source told agents the server was intended to “discuss geopolitical affairs and current and historical wars.”
Teixeira is believed to have been the head of an obscure invite-only Discord chatroom called Thug Shaker Central, multiple US officials told CNN, where information from the classified documents was first posted months ago.
Authorities have yet to publicly assign a motive to Teixeira’s alleged security breach and the allegations seem perplexing — even to those who said they were concerned by his odd behavior in high school.
One former classmate who asked not to be named said she found Teixeira’s fascination with the military to be a form of American nationalism and was surprised by the allegations against him.
“This is a complete shock,” she said. “I didn’t think he would be capable of doing something like this.”
Majlie de Puy Kamp and Casey Tolan contributed reporting to this post.