Police Say Student Planned Massacre At Daytona Embry-Riddle


Police in Daytona Beach say two Embry-Riddle students likely prevented a bloodbath at the local campus when they reported some disturbing social media posts from a fellow student. When officers intercepted 19-year-old John Argis Hagins IV outside his home on Thursday they found a folding rifle with a scope, six magazines and more than 800 rounds of ammunition in his backpack. “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 Police Chief Jakari Young. “It appears Hagins sold his vehicle to purchase that gun and ammunition … He was loaded for bear. He was prepared.”

Police allege Hagins picked the last day of the school term to carry out the plot because it was exam day and the college was guaranteed to be packed with students. Hagins, who has a private pilot certificate, was enrolled in the aerospace science program and was apparently failing at least some of his classes. When he posted pictures of his recently acquired Kel-Tec SUB2000 gun with the caption that he “finished his school shopping” and made other posts referencing the 1999 Columbine High School massacre that claimed 15 people, his fellow students alerted campus security, who told the police. Hagins faces a long list of charges.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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    • A favourite of certain Middle Eastern countries. A C-130 full of passengers takes off, then returns, without landing anywhere else, sans passengers!!

  1. Ah Russ, you nailed the alliteration exercise in the last paragraph.
    He picked the last day because it was packed with students, and is a student with a private pilot’s certificate, and had posted pictures of his recently-acquired gun.
    Swap acquired for purchased and it would be perfect prose from a proficient penman.
    Best wishes for the holiday season.

  2. Kudos to the alert students who noticed Hagins’ SM posts. Had he made it through school for some miraculous reason We would have had a German Wings pilot with all that implies. I think the drumbeat of over the top media coverage and the SM echo chambers actually fosters this kind of insane behavior.

  3. So many ER students own guns, shoot at ranges, and fail some of their high level classes. This is NORMAL behavior. The Police Chief here is a 4th hand source so take his quotes with a hundred weight of salt.

  4. Agree.

    Every now and then I read a newspaper article that feigns alarm that a ‘suspect’ had in his possession 1-5 guns and some amount of hundreds or rounds of ammunition.

    I know many good citizens who own dozens or scores of guns and ammo stores that would best be measured in hundreds of pounds if not thousands.

    That’s America.

    With that said it does appear this man may have been a threat. He may also be an idiot, or most likely both. We will have to see what the investigation shows.

    • At the very least, he’s an idiot wanting to inflate his value with a “dangerous” personna.
      At most, he’s a spree killer stopped in time.
      Things will be sorted, but I’m gonna guess that he never flies again, and never owns firearms again, legally.

  5. “He was headed over to Volusia Top Gun to practice and then he was headed to Embry-Riddle,”

    Students do that all the time as well. Notice that they left off the part were students also drop off their guns off-campus before heading in. Surely the police should have waited to do a search near the campus instead. Police have nothing when detaining someone for simply heading to a range. Unless he was jaywalking then all “charges” will be thrown out as an illegal search and false arrest.

    • And??

      Did you not read that the suspect had also just posted photos of his new rifle as well as references to the massacre at Columbine??

      Surely you aren’t suggesting that “students do that all the time,” are you?? I suppose that you will next tell us that he was simply exercising his right to free speech and that he did not represent a threat to anyone??

      Your comments are truly idiotic.

      • Since police could not get a warrant, then obviously his posts were not that threatening. And yes, adults do post pictures of their legal interests, legal hobbies, and their legally protected personal opinions on SM.

    • Not sure where you got your law degree, AJ, but you might wait until you have all the facts before claiming illegal search. If the police are acting on a tip regarding potential violence and have public posts of impending violence on social media, they are allowed to confront the suspect on public property and ask to search his backpack. If he refuses, he can be legally detained until a court order is obtained for the search.
      Are you proposing that the police should have stood around and waited until the shooting started before taking any action? It will be up to a judge as to whether he will be charged with any crimes, not the police.

      I have several friends who own and shoot assault stye weapons, and also stockpile ammunition, which is getting harder to obtain. But none of them have ever publicly, or in private that I know of, professed the admiration of mass shootings or said they would like to shoot up their school, workplace or church. I defend their right to own the weapons, and they agree with me that there are mentally disturbed people who have no business owning any firearm. They also support the police in their efforts to keep the public safe. Almost all mass shooters have, in advance, professed the desire or intent to shoot up their chosen target before actually committing the crime. Sometimes on social media or to fellow employees, etc., but no one took the statements seriously, or took any action to prevent it. In this day and time, where mass shootings are commonplace, we all need to be aware of the potential and do something if we fear someone might do the unthinkable.

      • The police were SURE to find a gun and ammo when he left his house to go to the range. That’s the problem here; he’s 100% innocent at that point and a “search” found nothing illegal.

        Police know that pressing a warrantless search will set anyone up for a host of issues in which police could then detain you.

        As said, it’s COMMONPLACE for ER students to own guns and take guns to the range. It’s COMMONPLACE to drop guns off before entering campus. Just because most people don’t know this is no reason to start arresting people.

    • Let’s play a game of Hypotheticals. Let’s say, hypothetically, that we have a suspect who has purchased a firearm, and a ton of ammo. This suspect stuffs it all in a backpack, and leaves his home with the intent of committing a crime. The suspect is contacted by a police officer and the officer discovers the contents of the backpack. Naturally, the officer asks, “What are you planning to do with all of this?”

      Now. Pause for a moment and ask yourself, what is the most likely response to such a question in this scenario? That’s right! You understand how this works! The suspect would naturally respond, “I was just headed to the gun range, officer.”

      Now, had the officers not done their job and investigated this threat, we have no idea what this kid would have done … thank God!

      • Since there was no crime committed nor expressly intended, there should be no arrest. The constitution was set in place to specifically stop police from using “hearsay and hypotheticals” to stop and arrest citizens.