A college student in Florida faces a slew of charges after tipsters informed authorities that he was planning to “enact a Columbine” on campus, referring to the 1999 Colorado school shooting that killed 15, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said at a news conference.
John Argis Hagins IV, 19, a licensed private pilot who attends Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and allegedly planned to carry out the mass shooting on the last day of school before winter break, was arrested Thursday outside his apartment. He is accused of attempted first-degree homicide, terrorism, and making written threats to injure or kill, according to authorities.
“Today is the last day before winter break,” Young said. “Today is finals, final exams, so this was all a part of the plan... Because today, the campus will be packed. Because everybody has to be there to take their final exams. So this was all in his plan.”
Hagins does not have a lawyer yet listed in court records and was unable to be reached. His father, John Hagins III of North Miami Beach, immediately hung up when contacted by The Daily Beast. His mother, Stephanie, did not immediately respond to a voicemail message seeking comment.
According to a charging document obtained by The Daily Beast, Hagins purchased a Kel-Tec SUB2000 collapsible rifle from a seller on Facebook Marketplace. He told a classmate that he wanted to buy a silencer “so he would be able to shoot inside the school library,” the filing states.
Investigators believe it was a recent purchase because Hagins posted a picture of the weapon on social media and commented that he had “finished his school shopping.” Hagins does not have a criminal history, according to public records. However, a student told police that Hagins had been accused of sexual assault at an Embry-Riddle party last year.
The good samaritans who reported Hagins’ alleged plot were two of his Embry-Riddle classmates who became alarmed at messages they said Hagins sent to a group chat, according to Young. The unnamed pair took their concerns to campus security, who subsequently informed police.
When cops went to detain Hagins at his home in Daytona’s Andros Isles Apartments, they found the Kel-Tec SUB2000 in his backpack along with “hundreds of rounds of ammunition,” a rifle scope, six magazines, and ear protection, according to a news release by Daytona Beach police. The charging document filed in the case states that Hagins “was in possession of approximately 800 rounds.”
“The plan was, he was going to leave his apartment, he was headed over to Volusia Top Gun to practice and then he was headed to Embry-Riddle,” said Young, who told reporters, “It appears Hagins sold his vehicle to purchase that gun and ammunition... He was loaded for bear. He was prepared.”
The Kel-Tec SUB2000 costs around $600 and is described by its manufacturer as “simply fun to shoot.”
“The SUB2000 offers the best of both worlds,” says its official product page. “Yes, it’s a pistol caliber, however the ballistic advantage and accuracy at distance come from the 16” barrel. Barrel length translates to velocity which translates to power downrange. You’ll get the most out of your pistol ammunition right out of the box.”
Hagins reportedly confessed to making the comments about shooting up the school, but downplayed them as a joke, said Young, adding, “We don’t find anything funny about discussing a mass shooting on campus.”
Hagins is an undergrad majoring in aeronautical science, the university said. He became certified to fly single-engine aircraft in October 2020, according to FAA records.
Detectives “are still trying to piece together the exact motive, but we have learned that Hagins was in danger of failing classes at [Embry-Riddle] and was also cited for a traffic infraction while on campus yesterday,” the City of Daytona’s press release said.
“We could have had a tragedy unfold today,” Young said Thursday evening. “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.”
In a letter to students, Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler wrote, “Law enforcement officers, Campus Safety and our students did an exceptional job today and helped keep our community safe, and we are in their debt. It was an admittedly frightening event, but our security systems worked and we are all safe. There is no reason to believe that there is any additional threat to the campus community at this time.”
Embry-Riddle reported just two disciplinary referrals for weapons in 2020, one of which involved a BB gun, according to its annual safety report.
Police arrested four students from the Miami-Dade County public school system over the course of three days this week for allegedly making violent threats, bringing the total number to seven for the year.
In Michigan, where a 15-year-old student was arrested after a school shooting that left four students dead and seven wounded, including a teacher, dozens of children—including two 9-year-old elementary school students—have been charged for allegedly threatening copycat attacks in the wake of that tragedy.
Hagins has been suspended and banned from campus, Embry-Riddle announced. He remains jailed without bond.