BREMERTON – The mother of a third-grade boy who brought a handgun to a Bremerton elementary school pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with a shooting that injured a classmate of the boy.
Amina Bowman, 9, was wounded when the .45-caliber handgun discharged in the boy’s backpack Feb. 22 at Armin Jahr Elementary School. She underwent five surgeries for a shattered elbow and damage to her internal organs.
Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge charged the boy’s mother, Jamie Chaffin, and her boyfriend, Douglas Bauer, with unlawful possession of a firearm and felony third-degree assault for negligently allowing the boy access to the gun. The boy reportedly obtained the handgun during a visit to his mother’s home days before the shooting.
In Kitsap County Superior Court on Tuesday, Chaffin pleaded guilty to the two counts and in exchange the prosecution dropped the assault charge. Chaffin, who faces just over a year in prison when sentenced, also agreed to testify against Bauer.
Bauer’s defense lawyer asked a judge to dismiss the criminal case against his client. The judge, instead, dismissed an unlawful possession of a firearm charge against Bauer. The assault charge still stands, and Bauer will stand trial in July, deputy prosecutor Jeremy Morris said.
Bowman’s family read a statement outside the courtroom after the hearings. They said they were “saddened and disappointed” with the plea deal.
“We want legitimate accountability for the heinous act that nearly ended her life. We want responsibility from those whose irresponsibility and negligence nearly cost us our daughter’s life,” said John Bowman, Bowman’s father.
Asked about his daughter’s medical condition, Bowman answered, “She’s got a long road ahead still.”
In cases in which a child obtains a weapon through an adult’s alleged negligence, prosecutors generally file a gross-misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment. But when he filed the assault charges in March, Hauge said the case called for tougher penalties.
“The adults have the responsibility for the firearm,” Hauge said at the time. “It was no different from if they said to him: ‘Here, put this (gun) in your backpack.’”The Kitsap Sun contributed to this report.