The mother of the boy who brought a gun to school resulting in the near-fatal shooting of a classmate was taken to jail on Thursday.
The mother of the Bremerton boy who brought a gun to school that critically injured a classmate was led from a Kitsap County courtroom in handcuffs on Thursday.
Jamie Lee Chaffin, 34, is facing felony assault charges in connection with the shooting of Amina Kocer-Bowman last month. Police and prosecutors say the boy picked up the loaded, unsecured weapon during a weekend visit with Chaffin and her boyfriend.
Chaffin, who has a history of drug and forgery convictions, was ordered taken into custody by Kitsap County District Court Judge Jeffrey Jahns, in part, because she has outstanding arrest warrants in Pierce County, the Kitsap Sun reported.
Chaffin, and her boyfriend, Douglas L. Bauer, 50, were both originally charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with the Feb. 22 incident at Armin Jahr Elementary School that wounded 8-year-old Amina. Bremerton police said the gun was registered to Bauer.
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Chaffin faces a second count of unlawful possession of a firearm because as a felon she is banned from possessing firearms.
But the penalty for those charges did not seem serious enough to Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge, who says he intends to test the law by charging Chaffin and Bauer with the more serious crime of felony assault.
“It’s not been done before, that we know, but we’re confident in our research,” he said Thursday. “We think the law in Washington is sound — that under the definition of cause that Washington uses, the situation that was created by the mother and boyfriend that allowed the boy to come into possession amounts to them being legally responsible for it.”
He noted there were at least three other loaded firearms in the home Chaffin and Bauer shared and said their negligence was akin to offering a gun to the boy.
If convicted as charged, Chaffin and Bauer could each face five years in prison, prosecutors said.
Chaffin and Bauer had been in Nevada at a NASCAR event when warrants for their arrests were issued two weeks ago. They appeared at their arraignment on Thursday with lawyers in tow and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Kitsap Sun reported that Bauer was released on personal recognizance despite a prosecutor’s request that he be held on $25,000 bond.
Bremerton police say Amina was shot when the gun accidentally discharged when Chaffin’s son dropped his backpack, with the gun inside, on his desk.
The .45 caliber bullet shattered Amina’s elbow before tearing through her abdomen and lodging near her spine. One of Amina’s surgeons said at a news conference earlier this week that the girl “nearly died” that day. On Thursday, having undergone five surgeries, she was released from the intensive-care unit, and she is now listed in satisfactory condition, according to staff at Harborview Medical Center.
The boy’s parents gave up custody of him and his siblings about three years ago and were adopted by their paternal grandmother. Before she died of cancer in 2010, she asked the children’s uncle to care for them. The uncle said last week that the children love their parents, and he thought having visits with their mother was good for them. He did not know there were guns in her house, he said.
The third-grade boy, who is not being named by The Seattle Times because he was charged as a juvenile, was sentenced to probation and counseling after he pleaded guilty last week to reckless endangerment and bringing a weapon to school. He has agreed to testify in the case against his mother if necessary.
The school shooting was the first of three child shootings in three weeks in Western Washington.
Last Saturday, the 7-year-old daughter of an off-duty Marysville police officer was fatally shot when a sibling found the officer’s gun as the children were in a van, parked near the Stanwood City Hall, while the officer was outside. The death of Jenna Carlile is being investigated by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and Snohomish prosecutors have said they will review the investigation upon its completion to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate.
On Wednesday, a 3-year-old killed himself when he found a gun that had been tucked under a car seat by his mother’s boyfriend at a gas station in Tacoma. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told the Tacoma News Tribune that he will meet with police on Friday to review the facts of the case and decide whether criminal charges should be filed against the mother or her boyfriend.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Associated Press, the Kitsap Sun and The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.