BREMERTON, Wash. - The uncle and legal guardian of a 9-year-old boy who shot and injured a classmate explained why the boy brought the gun to school.
The boy was a third grader at Armin Jahr Elementary - until he brought a gun to school that accidentally discharged and critically injured a classmate, 8-year-old Amina Bowman.
"He was crying. He had me and he hugged me and he was scared,” said Patrick Cochran, the boy’s uncle and legal guardian.
He said since the shooting, he learned the boy was being bullied at school. A week before, a fight broke out and the boy, along with several others, was suspended.
The boy said he brought a gun and a knife to school for protection.
"He felt between the principal and his teacher that no one at the school believed what he was saying about what was happening,” said Cochran.
The school district said state law forbids them from discussing the student or any possible investigation.
Police believe the boy got the gun from the home his mother shares with her boyfriend. Jamie Lee Passmore, a convicted felon, and Douglas Bauer now have warrants out for their arrest.
"I don't like guns. They scare me,” said Cochran. He said he doesn’t have one in his home.
Cochran allowed the boy and his sisters to visit their mom since she had turned a corner in her personal life and earned his trust back years ago. He said he never knew about the guns.
"I know she told the kids not to talk about it, that she could get in trouble, that she wouldn't be able to see the kids again, because she knows if I found about that, that would have been of the end of it. Period,” said Cochran.
Cochran said he hasn't spoken to Passmore since the shooting. She is at a NASCAR event in Nevada -- even as her son appeared in court admitting his guilt.
In Tuesday’s plea deal, the boy agreed to testify against his mother, to have no contact with her and to go through counseling.
The one thing that instantly brings Cochran to tears is Amina Bowman, the 8-year-old girl still fighting for her life at the hospital. Cochran said there is no way to adequately express his regret -- and he said his nephew is devastated by what happened.
"Amina was a friend of his in his class. He never wanted this to happen,” he said.
Amina Bowman is still at Harborview Medical Center. She is still not out of the woods and by all accounts could be in the hospital for a long time. The bullet damaged multiple organs and lodged near her spine.