Thanks to vigilant students, police arrested John Hagins before he could shoot up the Daytona Beach, Florida campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in a mass murder rampage. If he hadn’t made some over-the-top comments in a group Snapchat, there might be bodies.
Rampage on the radar
At least one of John Hagins’ friends knew about his plans ahead of time. It’s not clear if he was one of the two students who reported the impending rampage to campus security. It’s also not clear how many day’s ahead of the near-miss massacre they learned of his plot. What is known is chilling.
The deadly ambush almost happened, and would have if the suspect hadn’t told the whole world his plans ahead of time. That actually makes it seem more like a cry for help. He was hoping someone would stop him but what if nobody had?
The student pilot couldn’t drive much better than he could fly but he was also distracted by plans for his upcoming rampage.
“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 yesterday,” Daytona Beach Police note in a released statement. He confessed to the whole thing.
According to Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young, the 19-year-old was arrested Thursday, December 9, “the final day before winter break.” He told police he wanted his rampage to be just like “the 1999 mass shooting at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, that left 13 dead.”
When they arrested him he “had a backpack that contained a collapsible rifle, a magazine and several boxes of ammunition.” He planned on having a silencer but that must have been hung up in a shipping crate somewhere off Long Beach.
He sold his truck
One of Hagins’ friends said the crazy rampage talk started about a week before but nobody took it serious until he sold his truck.
The student told police, “Hagins began talking excessively about purchasing a gun” that “would fold and fit in his backpack” so “he could take it to the school and ‘shoot it up.'” Then, “Hagins sold his truck and used the money to purchase a gun.” A Kel Tec SUB2000.
That raised red flags. His friends were “more concerned” at that point because Hagins had previously expressed “ambitions about fixing up” the truck. He wouldn’t need it after his rampage was over. He also bought “approximately 800 rounds of ammunition.” The friend even saw the gun.
“The friend, according to the affidavit, told police that Hagins showed them the gun and said, ‘I finished my back-to-school shopping.'” He added “he would purchase a silencer so he would be able to shoot inside the school library.”
Someone dropped a dime on him at 4:10 a.m. by contacting campus security. He was all set for his rampage but wanted to get in some target practice first. “Police rushed to where the suspect lived and detained him as he was coming out of his apartment. He had planned to go to a shooting range for practice and then to the campus,” police say in the report.
Chief Young points out that it was “the last day, today is the 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.”