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Originally published Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 2:43 PM

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Father of girl shot at school says she faces a long recovery

The father of Amina Kocer-Bowman said Thursday that his daughter remains heavily sedated and faces a long recovery after being shot in a Bremerton elementary classroom last week.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The father of Amina Kocer-Bowman, the 8-year-old girl shot and wounded in her Bremerton elementary classroom last week, said Thursday that his daughter remains heavily sedated and faces a long recovery.

"We're worried about ... long-term health problems and possible psychological problems associated with this," John Bowman said in a news conference at the Seattle office of an attorney the family has hired to explore a possible lawsuit against anyone who might be responsible for the shooting.

The girl, originally listed in critical condition, was in serious condition Thursday in the intensive-care unit at Harborview Medical Center. She was taken there Feb. 22 after she was shot when a handgun in the backpack of a 9-year-old classmate accidentally discharged. The boy has been charged with assault and other crimes.

The bullet shattered Amina's elbow and went into her abdomen, penetrating her liver, pancreas and intestines, said the attorney, Jeff Campiche, adding that she has undergone five surgeries. The bullet lodged near her spine and probably can't be removed, her doctors said last week.

Bowman said he wanted to find answers to what led to the shooting so it doesn't happen again.

Police believe the boy got the gun during a visit with his mother, Jamie Lee Chaffin, a felon whose right to own a firearm had been revoked. Chaffin and the boy's father, Jason Cochran, had relinquished custody of the boy.

Campiche said he was trying to determine whether there are "entities" that might be held civilly liable, including the state because of the boy's troubled home life.

"So as we in the months that follow seek justice, we're hoping that ... we are in partnership with the present company in finding out what the facts are," Campiche said, referring to reporters in the room.

"We don't have them right now and we don't have any fingers to point," he added. "But I am in the business of pointing fingers. And I can tell you that the law firm here will be pointing fingers. And I hope that you're pointing right along with us, because they must be pointed."

Bowman, who served in the Navy in Iraq and now is a reservist, said he has cried himself to sleep some nights since the shooting. Campiche called the shooting the hardest thing Bowman has faced in his life.

Bowman said he and his wife have been regularly sitting with their daughter and holding her hand, and that his wife combed Amina's hair for the first time in a week Wednesday.

"You know, it's really hard," he said. "When I came back from Iraq last April, I thought I had kind of put everything — just seeing people in hospital beds, being shot, being wounded — I kind of thought that was behind me. And I didn't expect that a year later I would be dealing with this on a personal level."

The family has established The Amina Sierra Kocer-Bowman Victims Trust at Bank of America to assist with medical costs.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this story.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or smiletich@seattletimes.com

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