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Hardin High School

Hardin High School.

The Hardin High School student charged with bringing a gun to school and threatening another student and the art teacher suspected of hiding the gun for him are scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 27.

Art teacher Nora Bettina Block, 43, is charged with evidence tampering, a felony, and possessing a weapon in a school building and obstructing a peace officer, both misdemeanors.

Uttekaat Isaiah Jade Birdinground, 17, is charged with attempted robbery, a felony, and two misdemeanors: carrying a concealed weapon and having a weapon in a school building.

Both are tentatively scheduled to enter their pleas in Big Horn County District Court on Feb. 27.

The charges stem from an incident that began Jan. 26, when school officials responded to a report that a student had a gun at school, and found him in Block's classroom, charging documents state.

School surveillance footage from the day showed Birdinground walking through the school and holding his waistband, and looking into the principal's office, who was not in the building that day, according to charges. 

Birdinground then went into Block’s classroom and stayed there nearly three hours before being removed by a teacher, charges state. He did not attend his regularly scheduled classes that day. He was not registered in Block’s class.

No gun was found on the student, but sheriff's deputies returned to the school Saturday and were told that Block had found the gun while cleaning the classroom, according to the charges.

On Monday, Jan. 29, another student interviewed by officers said he had found the gun Friday and had given it to the teacher. Block declined to be interviewed that day, but came to a meeting later that night and allegedly told school officials she had lied about finding the gun Saturday, the documents state.

The school principal told investigators Block admitted to leaving the gun in her desk overnight, then on Saturday taking the gun out of her desk and placing it under a student's desk before reporting the weapon found.

Birdinground had not attended classes all week after the Friday incident, Superintendent Dennis Gerke said. The Big Horn Sheriff’s Office had asked for the public’s help in locating him, and classes at all Hardin School District schools, including Crow Agency and Fort Smith, were canceled on Friday as law enforcement searched for him. He was arrested Friday afternoon.

Birdinground is being held in a juvenile detention facility in Billings because Hardin has no youth facility. He is represented by Hardin attorney James Vogel.


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