Court documents filed in Kitsap County describe the events leading up to the accidental shooting Wednesday of a 9-year-old girl at a Bremerton school as well as the frantic moments afterward.
Intent on running away from the Bremerton home he shared with his father and uncle, the 9-year-old boy told classmates he needed protection.
He found it, according to Kitsap County prosecutors, in the home of his mother: a .45-caliber, semiautomatic handgun.
The handgun — cocked and loaded, with its safety off — was in the boy’s backpack when he slammed it on his desk Wednesday afternoon near the end of class at Armin Jahr Elementary School.
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Classmates heard a loud bang as the handgun discharged, ripping a hole in the backpack. Moments later, 8-year-old Amina Kocer-Bowman slumped to the floor, blood pouring from a wound in her abdomen.
Court documents filed in the county’s Juvenile Criminal Division describe the events leading up to the accidental shooting as well as the frantic moments afterward as teacher Natalie Poss tried to stanch Amina’s bleeding. Doctors have credited Poss with helping save the life of her student.
The boy has been charged with third-degree assault, second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun and having a weapon at a school. The Times is not naming him because he has been charged as a juvenile.
On Friday, Amina remained in critical condition in the intensive-care unit at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center after undergoing additional surgery. She’s been responsive to family members but is still getting help with her breathing, said Susan Gregg, a spokeswoman for the hospital.
The surgery will not be the last for Amina, who is expected to stay in the hospital for several weeks, Gregg said.
“We are seeing some improvement,” Gregg said Friday. “She’s still very sick, and she’s critical, but we’re seeing improvement.”
The bullet, which went through Amina’s right arm and into the right side of her abdomen, is lodged near her spine. Doctors don’t think they’ll be able to remove it.
Investigators say the boy obtained the handgun during a visit last weekend to the home of his mother, Jamie Chaffin, 34. His parents are divorced and several years ago relinquished custody of the boy, who now lives with an uncle, Patrick Cochran. The boy’s father, Jason Cochran, also lives in the home, prosecutors said.
The documents don’t indicate why the boy wanted to run away from home. But he had told at least two of his classmates that he took the handgun as part of his plan.
After the gun discharged, the students were quickly ushered from the classroom and the school was placed under lockdown. One student told investigators she saw smoke coming from the boy’s backpack.
Responding officers saw Amina on the floor with Poss attending to her. In an interview with KING5, Poss said she lifted up the girl’s shirt, noticed a bullet hole and began applying pressure to the wound.
“Stay with me,” she said she told the girl. “Don’t fall asleep. Stay with me, Amina.”
Acting on instinct, she said, she hopped in the ambulance to accompany Amina to the hospital, feeling she needed to stay with her student.
Poss returned to school the next day, said Patty Glaser, the spokeswoman for the Bremerton School District.
“I’m sure she’s doing exactly what she always does, which is taking care of her students,” Glaser said Friday. She said the district is proud of the way Poss reacted to the situation.
Though some parents chose to keep their children home on Thursday, the majority of students had returned by Friday, Glaser said.
Extra counseling staff were on hand Thursday and Friday and would be available until at least Monday to help students, parents and staff deal with the incident.
The boy was released to his uncle’s custody Thursday night after relatives and friends managed to post his $50,000 bail.
In a “capacity” hearing in two weeks, the court will decide whether to proceed with charges against the boy. The court will look at whether he knew his actions were wrong. Under state law, children between the ages of 8 and 12 can face criminal charges if a court makes that determination.
Bremerton police are also expected to investigate how the boy obtained the handgun to determine whether charges could be brought against others.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Lark Turner: 206-464-2761 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @larkreports