Bremerton school shooting victim released from hospital

SEATTLE -- The 9-year-old girl who was accidentally shot by another classmate at her third grade classroom in Bremerton was released from Harborview Medical Center on Tuesday -- exactly one year after her father returned home from his deployment in Iraq.

"It's like bringing home a newborn baby," said Amina Bowman's father, John Bowman. "We're just so happy to have her with us."

Amina walked out of the hospital on her own. Her surgeon, Dr. Eileen Bulger, said the move showed just how much strength the girl has regained since arriving at the hospital on Feb. 22.

"She's done very well. She's been very brave, and we're excited for her," said Bulger, the hospital's director of the emergency department. She's going to do some PT for her arm, but on the whole she's doing very well."

"She's been all grins all day," said Amina' mother, Teri Bowman.

Awaiting Amina at home was her newly-painted room, which friends had made over in purple, her favorite color.

"It's a little purple palace," said her father.

Amina was critically wounded when a handgun in a classmate's backpack at Armin Jahr Elementary School accidentally went off, hitting her. She sustained a serious injury to her small intestine and as a result, could not eat or drink for weeks.

Amina has been eating through a feeding tube since. But last Friday, she got to taste some soup, according to a post by her mother on Amina's Facebook page: "Someone's getting soup today, I'm not gonna mention names but she's very happy about it."

"She's still on a liquid diet and still needs to have some feeds through a feeding tube, but we think that will get better in the next few weeks," said Bulger on Tuesday.

The .45-caliber bullet is still lodged near her spine. But last week, Amina reached a milestone in her recovery when she took her first steps since the shooting.

Over five surgeries, she has been on the operating table for 16 hours. She needed 30 units of blood -- her entire blood volume. She is without a gall bladder, and the largest vein in her body is destroyed. A metal plate holds her shattered elbow together.

"I think there were a couple times in the operating room, especially the first operation, where we thought we might lose her on the table," Bulger said shortly after the incident. "It was very touch-and-go."

The 9-year-old boy accused of bringing the gun that accidentally fired and wounded Amina received a deferred prosecution.

Jamie Lee Chaffin, the mother of the 9-year-old boy who took the gun to school, pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm in the case. Chaffin's boyfriend, Douglas L. Bauer, pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

Amina will likely return to school in the fall, her parent said.
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