Daytona Beach, FL – An Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student who plotted a mass shooting at the school was arrested on Thursday after he left his apartment with a collapsible semi-automatic rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, according to police.
Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said that 19-year-old John Hagins, an undergraduate at Embry-Riddle, posted messages on Snapchat that implied he planned to carry out a mass shooting on campus on Dec. 9, the last day of classes before the holiday break, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported
Chief Young said the campus was packed with students taking final exams.
“The plan was he was going to leave from his apartment and he was headed over to Volusia Top Gun [a shooting range] for practice and then he was headed to Embry-Riddle,” the police chief explained.
Charging documents showed a witness told police that Hagins showed him a Kel-Tech gun he claimed to have bought on Facebook Marketplace, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
The arrest affidavit said Hagins also had about 800 rounds of ammunition, and that he had told the witness, “I finished my back-to-school shopping.”
At about 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, Hagins told the witness he was loading his bag for Thursday and sent a Snapchat of his backpack filled with ammunition and the gun, according to the affidavit.
Charging documents said that was when the witness called Embry-Riddle security to report the threat, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
Chief Young said Hagins had also referenced the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine in 1999 when talking to the witness.
The police chief said campus officials called police at about 4:10 a.m. on Dec. 9 after students who were in the Snapchat group with Hagins notified them, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
The arrest affidavit said one witness told police Hagins had begun “talking excessively” about having bought a gun that would fold and fit into his backpack for school so he could “shoot it up.”
The witnesses told investigators he became even more worried when he learned that Hagins had sold a truck he was fixing up to pay for the rifle, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
Daytona Beach police confirmed that Hagins had actually sold his vehicle to pay for the gun and ammunition.
Police went to Hagins apartment building to arrest him, and were in the parking lot waiting for a warrant when the would-be school shooter came walking out of his unit with his backpack, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
“We were able to grab him and detain him and once we detained him, we immediately noticed that he had this backpack and you can see there’s a magazine that he had in this backpack,” Chief Young said. “Contained inside the backpack was a collapsible rifle.”
The police chief said Hagins had several boxes of 9mm ammunition, a collapsible semi-automatic rifle, five loaded magazines – each holding 17 rounds, and an extended magazine loaded with 32 rounds, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
He said Hagins also had a rifle scope in the backpack.
The Aeronautical Science major was arrested without incident and booked into the Volusia County jail.
Chief Young said authorities don’t yet know the motive behind the planned massacre but said Hagins was on academic probation and that his grade point average had fallen below a 2.0, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
Charging documents said a witness told police the would-be school shooter had been accused of sexual assault on a woman at an Embry-Riddle party last year.
The witness said that was when Hagins’ grades started slipping and he stopped flying, according to the Dayton Beach News-Journal.
“We have learned that Hagins was in danger of failing classes at ERAU and was also cited for a traffic infraction while on campus yesterday [Wednesday],” Daytona Beach police said in a press release.
Chief Young said Hagins confessed to having made the threats but claimed that had had been joking, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
Hagins has been charged with written threats to injure or kill, terrorism, and attempted first-degree homicide.
He was held without bond pending arraignment, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.