Updated Feb. 24, 2012, 12:01 AM ET
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. - Crying and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, a frightened 9-year-old boy accused of accidentally shooting a classmate sat before a judge in juvenile court Thursday as his father gently rubbed his back.
The scene -- coming a day after police said the boy accidentally shot a fellow third-grader -- raised questions that will be played out in the legal system: Did he know what he did was wrong? And is anyone else responsible?
Bail was set at $50,000 during the hearing where preliminary charges were filed. Ultimately, the court will determine whether the case against the boy will continue as an 8-year-old girl remains critically wounded.
"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.
If the bail is met, the boy would be released to his uncle and placed under house arrest. The uncle, Patrick Cochran, is the boy's legal guardian and also sat by his nephew's side in the courthouse.
"He's a good kid. It's all I can say," said Patrick Cochran. "I apologize to the family of that girl. I really do."
Authorities say the boy brought a .45-caliber handgun he got from his mother's house to an elementary school in Bremerton on Wednesday, and the weapon discharged from inside his backpack just before classes let out, critically injuring Amina Kocer-Bowman.
Todd Dowell of the Kitsap County prosecutor's juvenile division said under state law children between 8 and 12 years old can face charges, if a court determines the child has the capacity to understand an act is wrong. A capacity hearing in this case will be held in two weeks.
Kitsap County officials said both the child's mother and father have criminal records. Bremerton police Lt. Peter Fisher would not discuss whether authorities were investigating any adults in connection with Wednesday's shooting, and he wouldn't release further information about the investigation.
Kocer-Bowman remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound. Dr. Eileen Bulger said the girl will likely be at the hospital for several weeks and face further surgeries. She was sedated and on a ventilator but has woken up and interacted with her parents.
On Wednesday, Bremerton police characterized the shooting at Armin Jahr Elementary as accidental. A bullet hit the girl in the abdomen and arm, according to authorities.
Her father, Josh Bowman, thanked his daughter's teacher in a statement, saying "had she not administered first aid and stopped the bleeding from the gunshot wound, this event would have surely been tragic."