Two Northwest College basketball players arrested following break-ins at former Byron High School

Ryan Fitzmaurice
Two Northwest College basketball players have been arrested in connection to three separate break-ins at the old Byron High School. The break-ins resulted in vandalism and significant amounts of damage, according to the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Ken Blackburn stated that two Northwest College students were arrested Monday in relation to the crime but declined to give their identity. The sheriff said that additional warrants are expected for suspects in the near future.

“The suspects were given the opportunity to work with law enforcement but refused,” Blackburn said. “That forced us to proceed with the warrants.”

The Big Horn County Sheriff inmate logs show two Northwest students processed into the Big Horn County jail Monday, both belonging to the Northwest basketball team. The first is Isaiah Halverson, a freshman transfer out of Sacramento, California. The second is Mack Page, a sophomore out of Worland. 

Both were arrested on nine felony charges, including five counts of burglary, one count of conspiracy, two counts of property destruction and one count of theft.

According to a Northwest College press release Wednesday morning the arrests took place on Northwest’s campus.

According to Blackburn, the old Byron High School, now home of the business Gold N’ Humates Oro Grow 307, was broken into Friday night, Sept. 29, and then Sunday night, Oct. 1,  by several adult Northwest college students. 

“This is no longer a school. This is private property,” Blackburn said. “People need to think how they will react when it’s their property that’s torn up.”

Blackburn said that deputies responded and investigated the scene and were able to pull surveillance video in the area that revealed several individuals involved. Damage to the building included shattered glass, torn carpeting, paint thrown throughout the building, fire extinguishers set off, torn up seating in the auditorium, along with various other acts of vandalism and destruction. 

Estimates for the damage are preliminary, but Blackburn said just the clean-up alone is projected to cost $200,000.

The third break-in occurred earlier that week and involved 18 high school aged youth. Blackburn said no damage to the building has been connected to the high school students involved in the first break-in, but that the entirety of the case is being reviewed by the county attorney for appropriate charges for all parties involved. 

“All of the damage was caused in the second and third incidents,” Blackburn said. 

The case is still under investigation, but Blackburn recognized the Powell sheriff and police departments for their assistance in the case, praised the work of Deputy Keri Angell and School Resource Officer Shane Brost for their investigation and also highlighted the efforts of the Byron Community Watch in giving intel on the case.

“The Byron Community Watch were able to recognize situations that were out of place that were able to lead us to a quick resolution,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn said he recognizes that the old Byron High School has long been a local spot for ghost hunts, but said the actions of the Northwest College students involved in the break-ins show how such community traditions can be taken too far.

“We had people come in who didn’t respect our community,” Blackburn said. “Instead of treating it with respect, they showed how small they are. That ruins it for everyone.”

Northwest College stated that they are aware of the incident but are unwilling to comment further at this time.

“Northwest College was recently notified of an investigation into a property crime that occurred in rural Big Horn County. The incident allegedly involved some Northwest College student athletes,” Carey Miller, Communications Director for Northwest College, released in the Wednesday morning statement.  “Any crime is a serious matter, so with respect to the investigative process and the due process owed to our students, no further information will be released by Northwest College at this time.”