Florida police on Thursday arrested a student who was allegedly planning a school shooting after two other students reported concerning messages he made on the social media app Snapchat to authorities, thwarting an apparent plot that could have resulted in another tragedy just over a week after the Michigan high school shooting.
The Daytona Beach Police Department detained John Hagins, 19, early Thursday morning to be sent to Volusia County Jail after processing. Hagins is being held without bond and is set to appear before a judge on Friday for an arraignment.
Hagins, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, faces a charge of terrorism, a charge for written threats to injure or kill and an attempted first-degree homicide charge, police announced in a press release.
During a news conference, Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said Hagins referenced the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School, which left 13 people dead.
The police chief emphasized how important it was that the two students reported Hagins to police before he committed any violence.
"This is the way we combat what's going on in this country right now," Young said. "Most people who carry out shootings like this, somebody knows something. But they usually fail to bring it to the authorities' attention. So the credit truly goes to those two students that stepped up, came forward and brought this to our attention."
Hagins was apparently in danger of failing classes and was cited for a traffic citation a day before the arrest, police said. He had sold his car to purchase a folding rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, they added.
Hagins had also recently posted pictures of his gun and written that he was "finished with his school shopping" on Snapchat, according to Spectrum News in Florida.
Young said Hagins planned to practice his marksmanship at Volusia Top Gun, a shooting range. On Friday, the student was headed to Embry-Riddle for the last day of the semester, when the largest number of students were expected to be be on campus.
"This was all in his plan," Young said, saying Hagins "has already confessed. He may want to claim it was all a joke and he wasn't serious about it, but we don't find anything funny about discussing a mass shooting on campus."
Two students reported the Snapchat messages to campus police, who called the Daytona Beach Police Department. Police arrested Hagins at his apartment on campus around 4:10 a.m. Police found a backpack filled with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and the folding rifle.
The president of the university, Barry Butler, commended both the students and police for their swift action to prevent a possible tragedy in a press release on Friday.
"They saw something, so they said something, and I thank them. Their actions were an outstanding example of our safety culture in action," he said. "Today was a difficult day, but for a moment, let’s focus on what went right."