Police: Potential mass shooting at Fla. university averted, student arrested

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 8:29 AM CST
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WESH) - Daytona Beach Police believe they thwarted a potential mass shooting on a college campus Thursday.

Two students picked up threatening messages on the Snapchat social media platform and notified authorities.

“He said once he was done at that firing range, he was going to campus to enact a Columbine,” Chief Jakari Young said.

Young said they got incredibly lucky after two students shared concerns about threatening statements from fellow student John Hagins, reported them to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University campus safety, who alerted Daytona Beach police.

Hagins was tracked to his off-campus apartment complex, where police detained him as he walked out. Inside a backpack, he was allegedly carrying an arsenal.

“He was going to leave from his apartment. He was headed over to Volusia Top Gun for practice, and then he was going to head to Embry-Riddle,” Young said.

Police said the suspect had a collapsible semi-automatic rifle fitted in the backpack, along with plenty of ammunition, six magazines, one that holds 32 9-millimeter bullets, a scope and ear protection.

“He was loaded. He was prepared,” Young said.

Hagins, the 19-year-old suspect, is believed to have purchased the semi-automatic rifle in a private sale.

It was the final day at Embry-Riddle before winter break.

“Today the campus will be packed because everybody has to be there to take their final exams, so this was all in his plan,” Young said.

Police say Hagins, from the Miami area, was failing classes and on academic probation.

They don’t know if university problems was a motive, but they said the college student has confessed to making mass shooting statements.

The alleged plan was thwarted when other students sounded the alarm.

“By the grace of God, they came forward and prevented Embry-Riddle Aeronautical from being the next national media story with regards to a mass shooting,” Young said.

Hagins is currently being held without bond and will have his first appearance in Volusia County Court on Friday.

Though there wasn’t a lockdown since police detained the suspect off campus, the entire university community was notified of police activity.

“It’s just something that happens, and there’s really not a way to fully eliminate that. You just have to know how to mitigate it and how to tackle the situation when it arises,” Cole McNall said.

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