DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A 19-year-old Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student was arrested early Thursday after classmates reported to police that he was allegedly planning a mass shooting at the school on the last day before the winter break.

What You Need To Know

  •  Police announced the arrest Thursday of an Embry-Riddle student accused of planning a mass shooting at the school

  •  Investigators say John Hagins, 19, allegedly sold his car to get the money to purchase a rifle and ammunition

  • Officers commend concerned classmates who tipped off police to the potential threat

Investigators said the student, John Hagins, sold his car so he could purchase a folding rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Officers were alerted to a possible situation at about 4:10 a.m. when two of Hagins' classmates reported concerning images he had posted to Snapchat. They pointed to one photo in particular of a gun and bullets that had the caption "finished my school shopping."

The two concerned students contacted campus safety officer, who then called the Daytona Police Department. 

Investigators said the social media messages Hagins allegedly sent led them to believe he was planning to shoot up the Embry-Riddle campus.

"By the grace of God, those two students came forward and thwarted that plan," DBPD Chief Jakari Young said. "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 on that campus."

Later in the morning, officers responded to Hagins' residence in Andros Isles apartments, located in the 100 block of Acklins Circle in Daytona Beach, where he was taken into custody. 

In his apartment, investigators reported finding the gun, ammunition and Hagins' backpack.

"Detectives are still trying to piece together the exact motive, but we have learned that Hagins was in danger of failing classes at ERAU and was also cited for a traffic infraction while on campus," the Daytona Beach Police Department said in a release.

Investigators say John Hagins, 19, had been sending messages online to some of his classmates that were so concerning that they contacted police. (Photo: Daytona Beach Police Department)

Young commended the students who contacted authorities with their concerns about Hagins.

"We could have had a tragedy unfold today," he said in a previous release. "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."

Students on Embry-Riddle's campus say they are still coming to grips with Hagins' arrest and alleged plan.

"It's been a little crazy because we're a pretty quiet college campus, all things considered," student Cody Wortley said. "So, to have this pop up out of nowhere is definitely wild." 

Hagins' neighbor, Alex Htoo, said the 19-year-old didn't strike him as someone potentially violent.

"He didn't seem like a school shoter at all," Htoo said. "He looked kind of stressed, but when I first met him, he was kind of cool, he was chill."

Htoo said Hagins had been acting differently recently, but didn't think it was anything dramatic. 

"Within the next two months, I could see him change a little bit," he said. "Seemed like he didn't want to talk anymore."

Another of Hagins' neighbors, Arianys Morales, said the accusations against him are worrying.

"I mean, I just dont want to be living right in front of him right now," she said. "It's a lot to take in."

Hagins didn't talk much, so Morales questioned how much she really knew him.

"He just seemed quiet," she said. "I mean, you really can't tell that much about someone when they are that quiet."

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

He was being held without bond at the Volusia County Jail pending his first appearance before a judge, which is expected to happen sometime Friday.

This is a developing story and more information will be posted as it becomes available.


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