A nine-year-old boy has appeared in a US court accused of accidentally shooting a classmate.
Court documents say the gun went off after the boy slammed his backpack down on a desk. The victim, eight-year-old Amina Kocer-Bowman, remains in critical condition.
The boy sat in court, crying and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, as his father rubbed his back.
The court must decide if the boy knew what he did was wrong and if anyone else is responsible.
The boy was charged with unlawful possession of a gun, bringing a dangerous weapon to school and third-degree assault. Bail was set at $50,000 (£31,600).
He will not be arraigned until the court determines whether he has the capacity to understand that what he did was wrong.
“I just want everyone to know that my kid made a mistake. It was a terrible mistake,” the boy’s father, Jason Cochran, said outside the courthouse.
Authorities say the boy brought a .45-calibre handgun from his mother’s house to school. Court documents say the boy had told a classmate that he was going to bring his “dad’s gun” to school and run away.
The teacher, Natalie Poss, said the shooting was “a teacher’s worst nightmare.” She recalled hearing a loud bang, then seeing the girl slump.
Children between eight and 12 can face charges in the US if a court determines he or she has the capacity to understand that what he or she did was wrong.
“He has a lot of good in his heart,” the boy’s teacher said. “I know he didn’t intend this to happen. And I know he’s hurting tonight.”
Gail Hammer, a law professor at Gonzaga University, said it is very rare for a child as young as nine to be charged with a crime
Washington State does not prosecute adults who allow children to get their hands on guns.
Past shootings at US schools have involved younger children. In 2000, six-year-old Kayla Rolland was fatally shot by a six-year-old classmate in Michigan and last year, a six-year-old at a Houston primary school accidentally injured three students with a gun