19-year-old planned Topeka West 'school shooting' due to bullying: detective

Isaiah Hodge (Shawnee Co. Dept. of Corrections)

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- A 19-year-old man chose Topeka West High School as a target to shoot up because he "had been bullied there," a Topeka police detective testified on Tuesday in Shawnee County District Court.

Isaiah K. Hodge was bound over Tuesday on one felony count of making an aggravated criminal threat on August 20. Through his defense attorney, Hodge pleaded "not guilty" to the aggravated criminal threat charge.

Hodge had planned to go to Topeka West to do a "school shooting" where "popular kids and jocks" had bullied him, Topeka Police Detective Matt McClimans testified.

Hodge was "having thoughts and feelings about shooting up" Topeka West or Topeka High School, "but chickened out in the end," McClimans testified.

Topeka High was included because it has a large number of students and a density of students, McClimans testified.

At one point, Hodge said he didn't intend to carry out the "shooting threats", but thoughts were in his head about it, McClimans said.

Hodge set the date of Aug. 20, 2019, far ahead so that friends and contacts would take him seriously, the detective said. Hodge had researched other school shootings, including the Parkland school shooting, McClimans said.

Hodge was "fascinated" with Nikolas Cruz, who is charged with killing 17 people and wounding 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla., McClimans said.

When the detective asked Hodge whether he had any disability, Hodge said he could read and write and was a graduate.

Finally, Hodge told McClimans he couldn't do the "school shooting" because he cared too much about his parents.

District Court Judge Nancy Parrish ordered Hodge to undergo a psychological examination, not focusing on his competency, but on whether he would be a threat to commit violence or to harm anyone.
Hodge doesn't have a criminal history.

Hodge will return to court on September 26 to review whether the psychological evaluation has been completed, then schedule a hearing.
In other testimony, co-worker Verlina Martinez testified that on August 20, he messaged her on Facebook to tell her about a "possible shooting he was planning" at Topeka West or Topeka High.The two worked at Kansas Neurological Institute.

"He was getting ready to open a (gun) safe and use the gun in there," Martinez said. But he "didn't have the guts to do it" so he was going to go about his work that day, she said. On Tuesday, Martinez identified paper copies of the Facebook messages from Hodge to her.
Martinez identified the messages on Tuesday.

Emilee Blevins testified she had dated Hodge ten months, but it ended early in August.

On August 20, he came to her house in west Topeka to tell her he wasn't going through with the "school shooting" at Topeka West so they could resume dating again, Blevins said. The couple had broken up because of his "school shooting" thoughts, she said.

Blevins didn't tell anyone about the planned Topeka West shooting.

"I kept it to myself," said Blevins, a 17-year-old Highland Park High School student.

In a recorded phone call to the Shawnee County Sheriff's Office on August 20, an unknown caller identified a man named "Isaiah Hodge" as someone planning the school shooting, something he had planned since he was 14.

Topeka West Principal Dustin Dick and Chief of Police Ronald Brown for Topeka Public Schools said the "secure campus" mode was instituted on August 20 at Topeka West after threats surfaced from the phone call and a tip from Jeri Cole, head of the CrimeStoppers program.

In secure campus, officers man the school perimeter, and school doors are locked. Brown said.

Dick made the decision to institute secure campus.