U.S. boy, 9, charged in shooting of third-grade classmate

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 23, 2012 5:08 PM
U.S. boy, 9, charged in shooting of third-grade classmate

By Laura L. Myers

PORT ORCHARD, Washington (Reuters) - A 9-year-old Washington state boy accused of bringing a loaded gun to third-grade, where it went off in his backpack and critically wounded a classmate, was charged on Thursday with assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Meanwhile the 8-year-old victim, Amina Kocer-Bowman, remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, one day after suffering gunshot wounds to her arm and abdomen.

The boy, a third-grade student at Armin Jahr Elementary School in Bremerton, Washington, was scheduled for an initial court appearance in the case later on Thursday.

He faces one count each of third-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm on school grounds.

The school was placed on lockdown following the early afternoon shooting and students were dismissed later in the day. The school reopened on Thursday.

"Teachers really want the students to come back to school. Talking to grief counselors so close to the event is really the best way to deal with this," Bremerton School District spokeswoman Patty Glaser said.

School staff and police responding to an emergency call found a loaded .45 caliber pistol in the boy's backpack, which was ripped open at the bottom where the muzzle of the gun had been pointed, prosecutors said in court papers.

Several students told investigators that they heard the gun go off when the boy slammed his backpack on a desk and one described Kocer-Bowman dropping to the floor, bleeding and with a hole in her stomach, according to the document.

Two students told investigators that the boy had earlier told them that he planned to bring his dad's gun to school and run away, prosecutors said in the papers.

(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Dan Burns and Eric Beech)