BREMERTON, Wash. -- The mother of a 9-year-old son, and her boyfriend, are facing criminal charges in connection with her child's allegedly accidental shooting of an elementary school classmate.
Arrests warrants were issued Monday for Jamie Lee Chaffin, 34, and Douglas L. Bauer, 50, in Kitsap County District Court.
Prosecutors allege that Chaffin and Bauer are criminally liable for the 9-year-old boy's unlawful possession of the gun, which he brought in his backpack Feb. 22 to his East Bremerton, Wash., elementary school.
The gun allegedly discharged inside a classroom, and a bullet struck classmate Amina Kocer-Bowman, 8, first in the elbow before piercing several internal organs and lodging in her spine. She remains at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge said that the boy's access to the gun constituted an "extreme act of negligence," that made the adults who created the situation just as responsible as the child.
Because she is a felon, Chaffin also was charged with a separate count of unlawful possession of a firearm, prosecutors said.
Bauer, acquitted in 1995 of second-degree manslaughter after a confrontation and shooting in South Kitsap, Wash., is charged with a single count of being criminally liable for the boy's unlawful possession of the firearm, a felony.
The boy got the H&K .45-caliber handgun from his mother's home the weekend before the shooting, court documents say. While she is the boy's mother, she does not have custody of the child and he only occasionally visits her, detectives said.
Bremerton police detectives, upon learning from the 9-year-old that the gun came from "Doug," visited Bauer and Chaffin at an Allyn-area home the same day. Detectives allege they found a loaded, unsecured 9mm pistol sitting on a desk next to a computer in the home, as well as a loaded shotgun leaning against a nightstand. They also found Chaffin drove a vehicle with a gun in its glove box.
In a nightstand drawer next to a bed, Chaffin, who'd agreed to show investigators some firearms inside the home, noticed the H&K .45-caliber handgun missing.
On Feb. 23, Kitsap County prosecutors charged the 9-year-old with third-degree assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and bringing a weapon onto school grounds. Hauge has pledged that his office isn't looking for incarceration as punishment but instead probation and treatment.
Kocer-Bowman's family has hired a Seattle attorney, who said Thursday that the incident wasn't "an accident" and that "there is fault here."
Bauer and Chaffin, who also goes by the name Jamie Lee Passmore, have had brushes with the criminal justice system in Kitsap County.
Bauer was acquitted by a jury of second-degree manslaughter in October 1995, according to Kitsap County court documents. He'd been charged by Kitsap County prosecutors following a deadly confrontation at a home in South Kitsap.
Chaffin was convicted of forgery and delivery of marijuana, both felonies, in January 2007, according to court documents. She'd been arrested in 2005 for trying to pass a stolen check; in 2006, West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team detectives used confidential informants to purchase marijuana from her and build a case. She pleaded guilty to both crimes and was sentenced to 10 days in jail.
She also was arrested in July 2005 by the Bremerton police's special operations group, when methamphetamine was found in a Galyan Drive home in which police said she lived. The charge was later amended to use of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor, and she received a day in jail after pleading guilty.
(Josh Farley is a reporter for The Kitsap Sun in Bremerton, Wash.)