POSTED: 10:33 p.m. HST, Feb 22, 2012
SEATTLE >> A gun brought to an elementary school near Seattle in a third-grade boy's backpack discharged Wednesday, apparently by accident, and critically wounded an 8-year-old girl, police said.
The unidentified child who brought the gun to Armin Jahr Elementary in Bremerton, Wash., was booked into Kitsap County juvenile detention for investigation of unlawful possession of a gun, bringing a dangerous weapon to school and third-degree assault.
"At this stage of the investigation, detectives believe the shooting was accidental," Bremerton police Lt. Peter Fisher said in a statement.
Fisher said a bullet went through the backpack and hit the little girl.
Investigators were working to determine how the child got the gun.
Little Amina Kocer-Bowman was in critical condition Wednesday night after surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, hospital spokeswoman Leila Gray said.
The Bremerton Schools superintendent's office said the girl was shot in the abdomen.
KING-TV reported that her friends and relatives gave a 'thumbs up' signal to reporters as they left the hospital late Wednesday.
The school is in a quiet residential neighborhood about 20 miles west of Seattle, across Puget Sound.
Fisher said officers and emergency crews were dispatched to the school around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in response to a call that a student was shot by another student.
The school went into lockdown immediately after the shooting, said Bremerton Schools spokeswoman Patty Glaser. Lockdown procedures call for announcements to be made over the school's loudspeakers and for teachers to lock their classrooms, she said.
Parents picked up their children later in the afternoon.
Armin Jahr Elementary has about 400 students, Glaser said. She said the school would reopen Thursday and three counselors would be available to talk to teachers, students and parents.
"Our plans at this time, school will continue as usual," Glaser said.
Many questions remained. Police did not immediately describe the gun involved.
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.
Associated Press photographer Ted Warren in Bremerton contributed to this report.