College student from South Florida arrested, threatened mass shooting at Daytona Beach university, police say

Investigators say John Hagins posted alarming messages on Snapchat saying that he planned to shoot up Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A man accused of plotting a mass shooting at a Daytona Beach university has ties to South Florida.

John Hagins, 19, was arrested Thursday morning outside of his Daytona Beach apartment about three and a half miles from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

A spokesman with the police department said that Hagins had made threats over Snapchat with a desire to “enact a Columbine,” a reference to the 1999 mass school shooting in Colorado that took the lives of 12 students and one teacher.

Hagins, from North Miami Beach, is an undergraduate student at Embry-Riddle, where he was majoring in Aeronautical Science, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

A friend told police that Hagins had been talking “excessively” about purchasing guns.

In an arrest affidavit, one person told police that Hagins had talked about buying a gun that was able to fold so it could fit inside a backpack. Friends also became concerned when Hagins sold his truck and used the money to purchase a gun.

Police watched Hagins leave his apartment in Daytona Beach carrying a backpack. In an affidavit, police said that when they approached Hagins, they could see that the backpack was unzipped at the top and a firearm could be seen “sticking out” of the backpack. Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said when Hagins planning to head to a gun range prior to going to Embry-Riddle.

Kel Tec SUB2000 and ammunition found inside John Hagins backpack, according to police (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

During a news conference on Thursday, Young said two students reported that Hagins made threats over Snapchat.

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

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.

Documents show Hagins told police he purchased the gun from someone 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.

Hagins faces charges of written threats to injure or kill, terrorism and attempted first-degree homicide and is being held without bond. He will be making a first appearance in court Friday afternoon.

About the Authors:

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

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.