Washington state third grader shoots classmate

Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:32pm EST

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(Reuters) - A boy in the third grade at a Washington state elementary school shot a female classmate on Wednesday, critically wounding the girl, authorities said.

The girl, 8-year-old Amina Kocer-Bowman, was rushed by air ambulance to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and wheeled into surgery for a gunshot wound to the stomach, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.

Gregg said Kocer-Bowman remained in critical condition following the 90-minute surgery.

"She's critical, she's very sick," Gregg said about five hours after the 1:30 p.m. PST shooting in a classroom at Armin Jahr Elementary School in Bremerton, Washington.

The spokeswoman said she didn't expect the girl's condition to change overnight.

The 9-year-old boy, who was not identified by authorities, was taken into custody by police, a Bremerton School District spokeswoman said, and the school was locked down before students were allowed to leave.

"We do know the gun and the student were found," Bremerton School District spokeswoman Patty Glaser said.

Glaser said police were still investigating the incident, which took place shortly before the end of the school day. Armin Jahr Elementary teaches about 400 students in grades K-5.

"It's very early in the investigation. As a parent I can only imagine. Our prayers go out to the families," Glaser said.

The district said the school would reopen on Thursday and that grief counselors would be on hand for students, staff and parents

A spokesman for police in Bremerton, a city of some 40,000 people about 15 miles west of Seattle, could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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