New details emerge about student accused of plotting mass shooting at Embry-Riddle

John Hagins held without bond in Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – New details were released Friday morning after authorities arrested a man accused of plotting a mass shooting at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

During a news conference on Thursday, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said officers arrested John Hagins, 19, Thursday morning outside his home at Andros Isles Apartments, about three and a half miles from the university, after two students reported that Hagins made threats over Snapchat about a desire to “enact a Columbine.”

“By the grace of God, those two students came forward and thwarted that plan,” Young said.

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Police learned from a friend that Hagins was accused of sexually assaulting a female during a party in 2020, according to an affidavit released Friday. During the investigation of the alleged sexual assault, the friend told officers that Hagins’ grades dropped and he was failing his classes.

The friend said Hagins began talking “excessively” about guns and buying one that can fold up to fit in a backpack to take to school and “shoot it up,” according to the affidavit. The friend said concerns arose when Hagins recently sold his truck that “he seemed to have ambitions about fixing up,” according to the report.

Police said the money used from the truck was used to purchase the gun. Documents show Hagins told police he purchased the gun from someone in Dunnellon through Facebook Marketplace and when Hagins showed the gun to his friend, he said, “I finished my back-to-school shopping.” According to the affidavit, the friend then said Hagins sent a Snapchat photo of his bag packed with the gun and ammo.

Police identified the rifle as a Kel Tec SUB2000. The chief also showed there were several rounds of 9mm ammunition inside the backpack, along with six magazines, during Thursday’s news conference.

Young said when Hagins was leaving his apartment, he planned to head to a gun range prior to heading to Embry-Riddle.

“He has already confessed to making these statements (on social media). He has confessed to it. He may want to claim that it was all a joke, and he wasn’t serious about it. But we don’t find anything funny about discussing a mass shooting on a campus,” Young said.

From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, the university is encouraging students who need to process the incident to visit the Daytona Beach campus’ counseling center to meet in a group setting for support. Students may also visit or contact the center by calling 386-226-6035.

Hagins faces charges of written threats to injure or kill, terrorism and attempted first-degree homicide.

A judge on Friday ordered Hagins should continue to be held without bond. A hearing will be held next week where a public defender will represent Hagins and will likely request bond.

Daytona Beach police released images of Snapchat photos in connection with mass shooting plot at Embry-Riddle. (Daytona Beach Police Department)

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.