Aug 4th 2014 by jbow808 • 41 Questions • 724 Points
On February 22, 2012 my daughter, Amina, was shot when a classmate reached into his backpack (that contained a .45 caliber handgun stolen from his biological mother's boyfriend) to show another student the weapon. The student told authorities that he brought the gun to protect himself from bullies (he was suspended from school the previous week for fighting).
Amina suffered life threatening injuries requiring 5 surgeries. Injuries include a severed inferior vena cava (the vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the upper half of the body to the heart's right atrium), she also had her spleen removed, damage to her liver and small intestine, a fractured elbow which has a titanium plate (this is where the bullet entered, and likely saved her life). The bullet remains lodged in her back, just millimeters away from her spine. She spend 6 weeks in the ICU and was on a feeding tube for about 3 weeks.
My Proof: : Submitted to Moderators for review. Sent a link to my facebook account, but that doesn't count for verification.. Sending an other form of verification.
I will try to answer all questions as they come.. I have nothing to hide.
Edit: Well It's 3:30 am here and I'm pretty sure more questions will pop-up. I'll be back to answer them as they come. Thanks for listening to my story!
Could you do a rundown on what was happening when you heard the news? What was happening before, during, and around that time?
The day of the shooting, I walked my daughter and her best friend at the time to school. (We only lived 5 houses away) . Little did I know when i hugged her as we rounded the corner to the school that i could have been the last time i could even tell my little monkey that i loved her. (edited a word)
The shooting occurred on a Wednesday (which are an early release day) and I normally took a later ferry to go the the University of Washington (were I was a student) and took classes at night so that I could spend the morning with my kids and work my part-time job at the VA. On this particular day I think I had a mid-term or something and decided to go to the campus early so i had my wife drop me off at the Bremerton Ferry Terminal at about 1:25 pm. As she was pulling away my wife's phone started ringing
At about 1:30 just as i was walking on the ferry, my wife told me that a shooting had occurred in our daughter's class, but she didn't know anything else. I started walking the 2 miles home with no idea what was occurring other than the fact every emergency vehicle in the city was headed towards the school and helicopters were circling my neighborhood. I tried calling my wife be her phone was busy the whole time
I had walked about a 1/2 mile when my neighbor called to tell me that my daughter, Amina, was shot and that she was being transported to the hospital, I almost broke down and cried.
I was in the middle of "nowhere" and had no way to get home, luckily i saw a guy about my age with a toddler coming out of the Post Office. The man asked why were a bunch of helicopter's flying around. I explained that there was a shooting in my daughters class room and asked for a ride. We took off down the street going about 60 in a 35!
When I got to my neighborhood, the roads were filled with anxious parents and emergency vechicles. My wife was requesting confirmation from the Fire Chief that it was our daughter who was transported to the hospital. 2 minutes after I arrived the Fire Chief broke the news and news camera's started appearing out of nowhere as my wifre and son started crying.
We raced to the local hospital and saw Amina's tiny body laying in the operatory, it seemed like the whole hospital was there to try to stabilize her. We were met by her teach who told us how she performed first aid and stopped the bleeding from her abdomen.
We arrived at the hospital just minutes before she was life flighted to Harbor View Medical Center in Seattle (about 15 miles away) and said good-bye and that she's a Bowman and Bowman's never give up.
Then we raced to our house about a mile away and grabbed a bag of of clothing, knowing that we would be in the hospital of a while and hoped that we would be able to catch the ferry which was scheduled to depart. I was on the phone trying to get the ferry held, while driving like a mad man to the ferry terminal.
That ferry ride was the longest hour of my life, but when we arrived at the hospital were we told that Amina had just gotten out of surgery and that they were trying to stop the bleeding but couldn't. We were just happy to have another chance to see her and not have to say good-bye.
Later that evening, following her second surgery which stabilized her condition, our friends and family started arriving.
Do you still keep in contact with the guy who drove you back to your neighborhood?
I wish i could find him and give him a big bro hug.. he was a life saver.
How difficult was it to decide to take action against the school district?
The decision to sue the school district was very difficult.... We consulted with family and our neighbors before deciding to take action. We knew that there would be some negative backlash and threats because of the lawsuit, and that we would likely lose friends over it. We've been called everything in the book.. money hungry, ghetto lottery winners, questions about our citizenship status had come up.. someone even suggested that our daughter should be raped by a member of the Catholic church, as we enrolled her into a private school following the shooting.
The tipping point was my medical insurer sending a letter stating that we needed to pay almost $400,000 in medical bills following her discharge from the hospital.
We still don't fell good about having to sue the school district, however since the shooting the school district took the position that the shooting was an accident rather than the direct result of bullying. The continue to take that position to this day and to my knowledge has not changed the way the deal with bullying.
Would you consider a service dog for Amina? I don't know what her current medical needs are but I know dogs can help with PTSD symptoms. If you'd like I can PM you info about a couple of organizations.
PTSD is so much harder in my own perceptions than the medical side of trauma. My body healed but my mind may never do so completely. I hope all the best for your dear daughter and hope every day gets a little brighter and better :)
Thank you! Amina has a 7 year old Lab and she has been instrumental in her recovery.
How do you even begin to deal with a situation like this? Is it all that is on your mind now? Is there any sense of "normal" now that it is redefined?
To be honest, it's been difficult. You kind of question if your a good parent for sending your kid to school that has issues like this. After Sandy Hook, I took the day off from work and pulled my son and daughter out of school just to hug them and let them know how much they mean to me.
For a long time this was all that was on my mind, whenever a school shooting occurred my wife would call me and tell me about it and I would get pissed over how much media attention was given to the shooter and not the victim.
Over the last 2 years I been seeing a therapist for PTSD and Anxiety, I was recently discharged from the Navy (Reserves) for PTSD because I could not deploy to Afghanistan. Since then I have taken a job in another state and moved my family to help us heal.
Since moving a month ago, I've noticed that my daughter looks happier and now plays outside, prior to moving she was a recluse and hid in her room. My wife is a lot less stressed about having random people come up to her in the supermarket or the bank and asking her how our daughter is doing, sometimes they even ask how the shooter is doing!
That possibility has been discussed, but we've been told that even that might have complications.
Hey John, glad to see youre still around. Hadnt heard much from you after you left CPF-0322.
Where are you at these days?
Glad to hear Amina is still hanging in there.
Thanks T! Living in Montana and getting my cowboy on..LOL!
One year probation and suspension from school, 24-hours of court mandated counseling, and he had to write a letter of apology, which was obviously dictated or written for him by a therapist. After his probation hearing all charges were dropped.
Jack in the box, but only is an in-n-out isn't nearby!
I actually was in the Navy for 19 years ( I was medically retired for PTSD). During my career I worked as a fire arms instructor and taught weapon safety to over 3,000 sailors.
I believe in the right to bear arms, but also believe that it is the individuals responsibility to protect weapons from unauthorized use (including being stolen).
That said, the whole concept that nobody has taken criminal responsibility for the shooting - the kid got a year probation then all charges were dropped, the gunner own appealed the charge (which my wife and I feel was the wrong charge anyway) and the case was dismissed by the WA State Supreme Court a few weeks ago.
How old is your daughter now, and how old was she when this tragedy occurred?
Amina is now 11. she was about 3 weeks shy of her 9th birthday when she was shot.
12 months probation, then record was cleared . http://www.king5.com/news/cities/bremerton/Charge-dropped-against-boy-in-Bremerton-school-shooting-192496961.html
After transferring to her new school, did your daughter need to make new ones, or was she also able to keep in touch with her old friends before the shooting incident?
Sadly Amina and her friends in the neighborhood drifted apart, mostly due to going to different schools and having different social schedules.
At her new school she made several friends and had occasional play dates/ and birthday party invites, all the parents at her new school were aware of her situation and were respectful of her boundaries.
Unfortunately we've moved to a new area and she has to start the process all over again, we done our part to get her involved including getting more involved with the church community and trying to introduce her to new kids. We actually are planning a visit to her new school tomorrow.
Yes and no.. Clearly he's a child and he doesn't have any physical restrictions. Hell one day he may even brag about getting away with what he did, because kids are dumb like that.
I blame the adults in his life, for teaching him that violence is the key to solving problems .. his family has been in the news for criminal activity, the gun owner (his mother's boyfriend) was acquitted of murder.. To top it off no criminal charges have been filed against the gun owner after he successfully appealed the assault charge in the WA State Supreme Court.
It pisses me off to no end thinking they really have no consequences for their actions.
Following the shooting I was angry a lot! I was diagnosed with PTSD a few months prior to the shooting and went off my medication. I wanted to do terrible things and contemplated suicide on more than one occasion. The shooting coupled with my inability to find a job were just too much to handle, yet I put on a happy face to hid my anger.
Since then I learned who I am and how to manage my illness. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got off my ass to do something about my situation.
I now have an awesome job, that I enjoy very much and have become a better father. I talk to my children and listen to what they say. I notice when things aren't quite right and try to figure out how to help them cope or deal with their problem.
I'm a little late... My question is, do you feel the shooter should've been held more responsible than he was? And he was only suspended?!? He should've been expelled.
He was expelled, however i don't think it was for the full year that was required.
We have enough gun laws in place at the state and federal level.. they just need to be enforced!
Serious question: I was reading further down you still support the right to bear arms, and hold no grudges to want guns banned or what not, will you ever teach your daughter to shoot or let her make that decision?
Best of luck for your guyses future endeavors.
That is going to be something Amina will have to decide. We live in Montana where hunting is the norm and young kids go to wal-mart with thier days to pick up ammo for the .22.
What where your initially thought when you found out what had happened, and what were your first instinctive thoughts regarding your actions against others?
The first question I asked the doctors was what type of gun she was shot with. When I heard she took a 45 at close range my heart sank and honestly didn't think my daughter was going to live.
All I thought was I went to effing Iraq and survived, my daughter went to school and died, how the eff is that fair.
Inside I was numb for days, i didn't sleep are eat and the nurses had to kick us out of the hospital. I was so busy thinking about my daughter i really didn't have time to be pissed off at anyone.