Girl who accidentally shot her instructor with an Uzi said the gun was too much for her

Video released by the Mohave County (Ariz.) Sheriff's Office shows a 9-year-old girl at a shooting range accidentally killing an instructor on Monday morning when she lost control of the Uzi he was showing her how to use. (Mohave County Sheriff's Office)

The 9-year-old girl who accidentally shot and killed her shooting range instructor with an Uzi in Arizona last week said afterward that the gun “was too much for her,” according to a police report.

This girl unintentionally shot Charles Vacca, an instructor at the Last Stop shooting range about an hour outside of Las Vegas, in the head on the morning of Aug. 25. He died that night, and the accident sparked a debate over whether such a young child should have been allowed to handle such a powerful weapon.

The new report, released by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday, sheds some new light on Vacca’s death. Among other things, it reveals that the girl said immediately after firing the gun that it was too powerful for her and had hurt her, something that delayed her family from immediately realizing that Vacca had been shot.

Vacca had shown the girl how to fire the weapon, the range instructor told police, and she had gotten a couple of rounds off with Vacca’s help before he let her hold the weapon on her own. At that point, the girl began shooting the gun, but “due to the recoil, the weapon went straight up in the air” and Vacca was struck in the left side of the head. Video footage, shot by the girl’s mother and sent to police, captured Vacca setting the gun to “automatic” before he was killed.

The girl’s father, who said he and his wife had brought their two daughters and son to the range from Las Vegas, said he had fired the gun before his daughter. He told police that after his daughter shot the Uzi, he thought she was injured because she was holding her shoulder. He said the family initially gathered around her, unaware that Vacca had been shot.

After the fatal shot was fired and the girl dropped the gun, she turned to her mother and told her that “the gun was too much for her and it hurt her shoulder,” the mother told police. When they realized Vacca was wounded, the girl’s parents took the family into the nearby restaurant to keep the children from seeing what was happening.

Meanwhile, the staff of the Last Stop told police that the release waivers the family had signed “were blown away by the wind after the incident had occurred.” No criminal charges are pending, but the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health has said it is investigating the shooting.

Vacca’s family called the shooting “a tragic accident” in an interview with the “Today” show, adding that they feel sorry for the girl and her family. “We don’t want their life to revolve around this,” Vacca’s daughter Ashley said in the interview.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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