The 9-year-old boy who brought a gun to school in Bremerton in February has written a letter of apology to classmate Amina Kocer-Bowman, who was critically wounded when, according to authorities, the gun accidentally fired.
On ruled schoolbook paper, the 9-year-old boy begins his letter of apology to the girl who used to be his third-grade classmate with a simple, evocative sentence:
“I’m sorry I hurt you because I brought a gun to school.”
The letter was part of his sentencing when he pleaded guilty March 6 to three misdemeanor charges stemming from what authorities say is an accidental shooting Feb. 22 of Amina Kocer-Bowman at a Bremerton elementary school.
The little girl finally went home Tuesday after 41 days at Harborview Medical Center and five surgeries. Amina still has a feeding tube in her stomach and a .45-caliber bullet permanently lodged next to her spine. The boy wrote the letter as he went through counseling, also mandated by the court as part of his one-year probation, said his Seattle attorney, Eric Makus.
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The handprinted words look to be carefully written out.
“I did not mean for any one to get hurt. I wish no one got hurt,” the letter continues. “I wish you were out of the hospital playing basketball and going back to school. I wish everyone was okay.”
In Kitsap County Juvenile Court, the boy also agreed to testify against his mother, Jamie Lee Chaffin, 34, and her boyfriend, Douglas L. Bauer, 50. They have been charged with third-degree assault.
According to police and prosecutors, the boy took a loaded .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun from their home during a visit a few days earlier.
He placed the loaded handgun in his backpack, and the weapon accidentally discharged when he dropped the backpack on a desk.
Makus said the boy now lives in East Bremerton with his uncle, who is his legal guardian, his two older sisters and his biological father.
Expelled for one year from the Bremerton School District, the boy is being home-schooled with a tutor, said Makus.
“He’s doing the best that he can. I think it’s one day at a time,” said the attorney.
The brief letter concludes:
“I made a bad choice. I was sad, scared and afraid and I did not solve my problem well. I will stay away from guns. I should have told a grown-up. I will promise to learn better ways to solve my problems. Again I am sorry Amina.”
Amina, too, isn’t returning to school this year as her wounds heal.
Jeff Campiche is the Seattle attorney representing Amina and her parents, John Bowman and Teri Bowman.
Campiche said the family will make a decision in about two months about a possible lawsuit.
About the boy’s letter, Campiche said, in part, in an email, “Although appreciated the apology of the child simply cannot and does not satisfy the responsibility of the boy, his parents or child protective services for Amina’s harms and losses. …
“Beyond the apology, there is a need for very real financial contributions to offset the huge financial burden placed on the family. Not to mention the painful years of rehabilitation and disability that Amina will endure.
“We believe the focus of public attention should not stop with the child’s apology rather we must look carefully at the failings of the boy’s parents and child protective services supervision of the boy and to determine how it is that this 9 year old boy would think it was necessary to bring a 45 caliber semi automatic handgun to an elementary school classroom … “
Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or firstname.lastname@example.org