Volusia County

Police: Embry-Riddle student planned mass shooting on campus before winter break

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — An Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student is in custody after police said he planned to shoot up the campus on the final day of school before winter break.

Police said fellow students alerted campus security at 4:10 a.m. on Thursday about alarming messages John Hagins, 19, had posted on Snapchat.


Investigators said Hagins laid out plans to bring a foldable gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to campus inside a backpack. Police said it appears Hagins, who is from Miami, sold his car to buy the gun and ammunition.

Officers said that when they apprehended Hagins around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, he had the backpack, gun and ammunition in his possession.

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Hagins told deputies he was on the way to the firing range.

“He referenced Columbine,” Police Chief Jakari Young said. “He said once he was done at that firing range he was going to campus to enact a Columbine so that’s what we are dealing with.”

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Police said Hagins was processed at police headquarters before he was sent to Volusia County Jail. Officers said he is charged with written threats to injure or kill, terrorism, and attempted first-degree homicide. He is being held on no bond.

“We could have had a tragedy unfold today,” Young said. “Instead, these students reported it to the school and that allowed us to get to work right away and bring Hagins into custody before he could carry out his plans. We thank them all for seeing something and saying something.”

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Embry-Riddle officials said Hagins is an undergrad aeronautical science major. The university would not comment on his academic and disciplinary record.

Police said they are not aware of any criminal record or mental health issues.

Detectives said they are trying to piece together Hagins’ motive, but learned he was in danger of failing classes at ERAU and was cited for a traffic infraction on Wednesday on campus.

Stay tuned to Channel 9 Eyewitness News for updates.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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