Topeka Student Arrested In Murder For Hire Plot

By: Greg Palmer/ Sarah Plake/Josh Mabry/Ariana Cohen
By: Greg Palmer/ Sarah Plake/Josh Mabry/Ariana Cohen
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Topeka West High School (file image)
DA Chad Taylor speaks to reporters Wednesday.

Note: Some news outlets reported over the noon hour Wednesday that Topeka West High School was on lockdown. USD 501 spokesperson Ron Harbaugh told 13 News those reports were false, and that the school was not placed on lockdown.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- A Topeka teen was arrested Tuesday in a murder for hire plot.

Brendan Steven Moore, 17, is accused of plans to murder four people at Topeka West High School.

"This was a student who was orchestrating an attempt to terminate the lives of two law enforcement officers and two administrators inside of the Topeka West High School," Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor said Wednesday.

13 News is choosing not to report the names of the individuals targeted. One of the targeted law enforcement officers involved works for USD 501. The other is a member of the Topeka Police Department assigned to the high school.

When asked specifically if Moore's plot involved a shooting at the school Taylor said, "If you look at the facts of the case, and the way that the complaint is charged, that is the way it was going to play out."

Moore has been charged with four counts of murder in the first degree: solicitation, all of which are level 3 person felonies.

According to criminal complaint documents obtained by 13 News, Moore contacted three individuals who he asked to commit murder in the first degree.

DA Taylor plans to prosecute Moore as an adult.

Authorities said Wednesday that an investigation into the allegations began about 40 days ago. Moore was arrested around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday "at a facility outside the county," Taylor said.

"Make no mistake about it. This was a crisis averted," Taylor told reporters.

He stressed that there is no reason to believe Topeka schools are not safe at this time, although this event has created a heightened awareness and security level.

It is the policy of 13 News to release the names of juveniles charged with felonies.

Taylor would not identify Moore as the defendant during a news conference Wednesday. 13 News obtained public records Wednesday identifying Moore as the accused.

News of the alleged Topeka West shooting plot has stirred up a reaction from students.

The alleged plan to murder four people at Topeka West High School has Topeka West students reacting on social media.

"I couldn't believe it. I really couldn't like I thought it was all a joke on Facebook. I thought people were just messing around but then when I came to school I thought oh my gosh I've seen it all over Facebook and everyone's talking about him," said Topeka West senior, Dakota Iott.

Topeka West High graduate Kazyon Coplin says Wednesday's news was unexpected.

"I don't really know him. I never really heard about him, but West doesn't seem like the type of place where that would happen. I mean when I went there it was a good school," says Coplin.

"He's nice, funny, class clown pretty much make fun of people, smart back to the teacher, didn't listen, didn't do a lot of work, copied a lot of people," says Iott.

USD 501 Director of Communications Ron Harbaugh told 13 News some reports that Topeka West was on lock down Wednesday afternoon were false. He did tell us teachers delayed the students' lunch hour by a few minutes to read a news brief about the situation.

"I think its good they prevented it from happening so no one would get hurt as far as people getting scared to go there -no not really," said Coplin.

"No not at all I'm not scared to go to this school its safe. There's a lot of cops the buildings are locked, its safe to me," says Iott.

13 News will continue posting new updates related to the case throughout the day. Stay with wibw.com and WIBW-TV for new information.


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