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Originally published February 23, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Page modified February 23, 2012 at 10:20 PM

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Young shooting victim's father, doctor warn of long recovery

In an emotional news conference Thursday afternoon, the father of the 8-year-old Bremerton school shooting victim asked for thoughts and prayers for his daughter "as she takes the first steps along the road to recovery."

Seattle Times education reporter

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In an emotional news conference Thursday afternoon, the father of the 8-year-old girl shot in her Bremerton classroom asked for thoughts and prayers for his daughter "as she takes the first steps along the road to recovery."

Dressed in a gray University of Washington sweatshirt and jeans, John Bowman read from a short statement thanking doctors and third-grade Armin Jahr Elementary teacher Natalie Poss, whom he credits with saving his daughter's life.

His voice cracked as he talked about the pain his daughter, Amina, is facing.

"It's difficult," he said. "Anybody who has kids knows that you'd do anything to take away the pain she's feeling and put it on yourself."

Before Bowman's statement, Amina's doctor gave an update on the girl, who still is in critical condition in the intensive-care unit.

Surgeon Eileen Bulger said the 8-year-old is "out of the woods" in terms of bleeding, but still faces a long and complicated recovery. It's too soon for a prognosis, she said.

The girl is heavily sedated and on a ventilator, Bulger said. But she has awakened and interacted with her family, signaling that there may not be significant neurological damage.

Amina faces many more surgeries and weeks in the hospital, Bulger said.

The wound is severe, in part because the bullet came from a powerful .45-caliber gun, she said.

The bullet, which went through the girl's right arm and into the right side of her abdomen, is still lodged near her spine, Bulger said. Doctors don't think they'll be able to remove it.

Although Bulger emphasized that Amina has a long way to go, the surgeon noted that her condition has improved since she arrived at Harborview Medical Center on Wednesday with life-threatening injuries and massive bleeding.

"She was very close to death yesterday," Bulger said.

The family has established The Amina Sierra Kocer-Bowman Victims Trust at Bank of America to assist with health-care costs, Bowman said.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or brosenthal@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.

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