PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – Crying and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, a slight, 9-year-old boy stood before a judge who would determine whether he would face criminal charges in a school shooting that left another third-grader critically wounded.
The week before, court records say, the boy had told classmates that he planned to run away from his uncle’s house, where he has lived since his grandmother died a year ago. He told them he would bring his dad’s gun with him for protection. Instead, he found a gun at his mother’s house, where he had visited over the weekend, records say.
On Wednesday, the boy stowed the .45-caliber Heckler and Koch pistol at the bottom of his backpack. The safety was off and the gun was cocked.
Around 1:29 p.m., one minute before school let out, the boy plopped his backpack on a desk in his third-grade classroom in Bremerton, Wash, a quiet community that is an hour from Seattle by ferry.
The gun went off, making a loud boom, and Amina Kocer-Bowman, age 8, crumbled to the floor, bleeding from a hole in her stomach.
Amina’s teacher administered first aid before a flight across Puget Sound to Harborview Medical Center.
An officer found that the bottom of the boy’s backpack had been blown open where the pistol’s muzzle had been pointed. The gun had another live round in the chamber and a spent .45 casing was still in the pack.
During the hearing on Thursday, the boy sat next to his father, who rubbed his son’s back. After, as officers led the boy away, his father, Jason Cochran, had tears in his eyes as he hugged his son.
"I just want everyone to know that my kid made a mistake. It was a terrible mistake," his father, Jason Cochran, said outside the courthouse, according to The Associated Press.
The boy is being investigated on these charges: Third-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree and possession of a firearm on school facilities. Bail was set at $50,000 bail. The boy would be released to his uncle and legal guardian, Patrick Cochran, if it is met.
"He's a good kid. It's all I can say," Patrick Cochran told the AP. "I apologize to the family of that girl. I really do."
Amina remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after undergoing surgery. Her doctor said she would likely stay at the hospital for several weeks and go through more surgeries.
Todd Dowell of the Kitsap County prosecutor's juvenile division told msnbc.com that several of the boy's family members had attended the hearing.
Dowell said that under state law children between 8 and 12 years old can face charges if a court determines the child has the capacity to understand an act is wrong. A capacity hearing in this case is scheduled for March 7.
Bremerton police Lt. Peter Fisher would not discuss whether authorities were investigating any adults in connection with the shooting or release further information about the investigation.
Authorities say the shooting was accidental.
Kids and guns
Twenty-seven states have some form of firearm child access prevention laws. Such laws can include criminal penalties for adults who allow children to get their hands on guns, but Washington is not one of those states, according to the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence.
Gail Hammer, a law professor at Gonzaga University in Spokane, said it is very rare for a child as young as 9 to be charged with a crime. Even if a young child is convicted, they wouldn't be sent to an adult prison, Hammer said.
"Generally with young children they try to deal with it in the juvenile system," she said.
In 2000, 6-year-old Kayla Rolland, a Michigan first-grader, was fatally shot by a 6-year-old classmate who brought a gun from home. Last year, a 6-year-old kindergartner at a Houston elementary school accidentally fired a gun as he was showing it off to friends, injuring three students.
Bremerton Schools spokeswoman Patty Glaser said the school where Wednesday's shooting happened, with about 400 students, was open for classes Thursday with 10 counselors available to talk with teachers, students and parents.
Glaser said the classroom where the shooting took place remained closed and that the students from that classroom have been moved.
This article includes reporting by msnbc.com’s Sevil Omer and Isolde Raftery and The Associated Press.
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