Police say girl accidentally shot at Bremerton elementary school

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 23 at 9:30 AM

Bremerton school shooting

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BREMERTON, Wash. - Bremerton police say the 8-year-old girl was accidentally shot Wednesday afternoon at Armin Jahr Elementary School in Bremerton, by another student.

Police say a student brought a gun to school and it fired while in his backpack.  The bullet went through the bag and injuring third-grader Amina Bowman.  

Sources tell KING 5 that Bowman was shot once, perhaps in the arm, and the bullet continued into her side missing all the vital organs.  

Bowman was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center, where she underwent surgery just minutes after arriving.  She made it through exploratory surgery fine but faces additional surgeries, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.  She is in critical condition, but friends and family gave a 'thumbs up' signal to reporters as they left the hospital late Wednesday.

Cindy Kocer, Bowman's grandmother, told KING 5 that she was watching TV of the shooting just before learning her granddaughter was involved.

"[Amina] "She will pull through," said Kocer.  "If I can make a plea to all my CFC [Couples for Christ] families, please pray for her. That's all I need. That's all we need."

A teacher working in the office said the shooting happened in a classroom around 1:30 p.m.

The school was placed under lockdown. Lt. Fisher said police did a sweep of the school after taking the student into custody, then worked with the district to reunite students and parents.

"I heard a like a gunshot, and I was really scared," said 5th grader Kaytley Clark.

Her mother, Alish Picking, was one of the first parents at the school.  Picking's first inclination that something might be wrong was the sight of police cars flying past her house converging at the school.

"I ran out there, and I knew something was wrong," said Picking.

 

The teacher in the classroom at the time spent tonight with her grandchildren according to her husband.

"She's doing a lot better.  She got through it...very brave," said Bill Poss.  "She rode to the hospital with the little girl...I think she's going to be OK."

 

The student who brought the gun has been taken into custody and booked into the Kitsap County Juvenile Detention Center for unlawful possession of a firearm, bringing a dangerous weapon onto school grounds and third-degree assault.

Police are still investigating how the 9-year-old student got a hold of the gun.

Armin Jahr Elementary has about 400 students and serves kindergarten through fifth grade students. Bremerton Schools spokeswoman Patty Glaser said the school will reopen Thursday and three counselors will talk to teachers, students and parents.

"Our plans at this time, school will continue as usual," said Glaser. 

In the latest scorecard by the Brady Campaign, a national gun control advocacy group, Washington scored no points in the child safety category because the state does not require trigger locks for guns and lacks laws to prevent child access to firearms.

"Washington state is a loosely regulated state when it comes to firearms," said Gregory Roberts, executive director of Washington Cease Fire, a Brady Campaign affiliate.

Amanda Roth, a staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence, said 27 states and the District of Columbia have some form of firearm child access prevention laws. Such laws can include requirements to use gun locks and criminal penalties for adults who allow children to get their hands on guns. 

Just last year, teacher Jennifer Paulson was shot and killed by a man who was stalking her at Birney Elementary school in Tacoma.  The shooter, Jed Waits, committed suicide.

In January 2007, Douglas Chanthabouly killed fellow student Samnang Kok in a hallway before the start of classes at Tacoma's Foss High School.  Chanthabouly was sentenced to more than 23 years in prison.

And in February 1996, two students and a teacher were killed at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake by then 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis.  Loukaitis is serving life in prison at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center.

KING 5's Jim Forman, Drew Mikkelsen and Glenn Farley as well as The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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