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Girl said Uzi was too much for her


By JACQUES BILLEAUD

PHOENIX (AP) - A 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed an instructor with an Uzi at an Arizona shooting range said immediately after the shooting that she felt the gun was too much for her and had hurt her shoulder, according to police reports released Tuesday.

Her family members were focused on the girl because they thought she was injured by the gun's recoil and didn't immediately realize instructor Charles Vacca had been shot until one of his colleagues ran over to him.

The family, whose hometown hasn't been revealed by investigators, had taken a shuttle on Aug. 25 from Las Vegas about 60 miles south to the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona.

The report did not say why the family had gone to the range or why they let the girl handle the Uzi.

After arriving, the girl, her parents, sister and brother took a monster truck ride before heading out to the shooting range.

The girl's father was the first one in the party to handle a weapon. After he fired shots, Vacca instructed the girl on how to shoot the gun, showed her a shooting stance, and helped her fire a few rounds.

Then, he stepped back and let her hold the Uzi by herself. She fired the gun, and its recoil wrenched the Uzi upward, killing Vacca with a shot to the head, according to the report.

The girl dropped the Uzi, and Vacca fell to the ground. The girl ran toward her family, who huddled around her as she held her shoulder. Another instructor rushed over to help to Vacca. The other children were then taken away from the range, according to the report.

The report describes the family as shaken by the accident.

Prosecutors are not filing charges in the case. Arizona's workplace safety agency is investigating the shooting-range death.

County prosecutors say the instructor was probably the most criminally negligent person involved in the accident for having allowed the child to hold the gun without enough training. They also said the parents and child weren't criminally culpable.

The girl's mother had video-recorded the accident on her phone.

Gun Range Instructor's Daughter: 'He Was A Good Person'

"All right, go ahead and give me one shot," Vacca tells the girl in the video. He then cheers when she fires one round at the target.

"All right full auto," Vacca says. The video, which does not show the actual incident, ends with a series of shots being heard.

The shooting set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns, with many people wondering what sort of parents would let a child handle a submachine gun.

Sam Scarmardo, the range's operator, has said the parents had signed waivers saying they understood the rules and were standing nearby when the accident occurred. He also had said he never had a safety problem before at the range and said his policy of allowing children 8 and older to fire guns under adult supervision and an instructor's watchful eye is standard industry practice, though he noted his policies are under review.

Vacca's ex-wife and children said last week that they harbored no ill feelings toward the girl or her family. Instead, they feel sorry for the child and want to comfort her.

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michells27 September 02 2014 at 4:00 PM

The family took a ride in a "monster truck" and went off to the gun range to teach the lil uns to shoot an uzi. OK just search the local trailer park for these lousy, loser parents. STUPID is as STUPID does.

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18 replies
sande91075 September 02 2014 at 4:06 PM

I'm all for protecting your home and family but a nine year old handling an uzi? Jeez.....what the hell is wrong with this picture?

Flag Reply +67 rate up
9 replies
NewKentNana4 September 02 2014 at 4:07 PM

Cant believe the parents are not responsible. If the parents had not taken the child to the gun range, the instructor would not have had to teach her to shoot. The child might be innocent but the parents are to blame.

Flag Reply +48 rate up
23 replies
dsamsil September 02 2014 at 3:43 PM

Yes this instructor was responsible for his own death. An instructor in full auto weapons doesn't let the person being trained handle the gun by themselves. They stand behind the person and hold the arm holding the weapon so the recoil doesn't make the gun flip upwards. Even adults can be surprised by the recoil of a gun on full auto and wind up shooting into the sky or the ceiling before they manage to take their finger off the trigger.

Flag Reply +43 rate up
7 replies
laclone September 02 2014 at 4:40 PM

The range's operators stated procedures are Not industry standards.

Letting children, with little or no experience with firearms, shoot heavy caliber, automatic weapons is an accident waiting to happen..., and one finally did.
Plus, the instructors actions and procedures, seen in the video, went against every procedural standard for range safety. The instructor does not stand forward and to the side of the shooter while shooting! Ever! For exactly the reasons that occurred here.
If this is an example of how this range has been operating, it should be shut down immediately, and the owners/operators held reasonable for the death.

I'm all for teaching children gun safety and how to shoot a weapon. But like any taught skill, it must be done in progressive stages of teaching the necessary skills and respect for the weapon and it's safe use.

This place was a tourist trap, not a professional firearms range, and should be closed.

Flag Reply +40 rate up
6 replies
Craig September 02 2014 at 4:01 PM

When you run out of things to do in Las Vegas that you have to go fire a gun it's time to just stay home.

Flag Reply +30 rate up
3 replies
Donald Schuler September 02 2014 at 4:07 PM

It will take a miracle for this young girl to live a normal life ,free of guilt .Extensive counseling ,paid for by this shooting range is in order . A lot of weight on her conscience ,as to why her parents stood by and provide the incentive to fire a gun .You don't start out with an UZI ,when introduced to gun safety .

Flag Reply +19 rate up
13 replies
SRJimVal2 September 02 2014 at 4:03 PM

You can never be too careful when handling a weapon or being near one, or at the end of one. It's a sad thing, nevertheless, but mistakes happen. Use more caution people.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
BipDBo September 02 2014 at 5:30 PM

This is what happens when you think of guns as toys.
These are not toys, but rather deadly weapons, and should be treated with due respect and care.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
avl14 September 02 2014 at 4:51 PM

every family has a different idea of how to live their life, and I am DAME well glad that every family has that right. Moster trucks, guns, chrurch, movies, sky diving, swimming, whatever.....This was an accident and any activity has risk, case in point a woman drown while snorkeling on a carnival cruise excursion this past week, any activity has risk, looks like they to actions to reduce risk but accidents happen, this one just happen to be with a gun.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
14 replies
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