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VIDEO: 9-year-old girl loses control of Uzi, kills gun instructor

DOLAN SPRINGS, Arizona — A 9-year-old girl learning to fire a submachine gun accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range when the weapon recoiled over her shoulder, according to Arizona authorities.

The instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca, died at a hospital late Monday night after he was shot in the head.

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office said the girl was with her parents. The website of Bullets and Burgers, the shooting range where the accident happened, says children between the ages of 8 and 17 can shoot a weapon if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Police identified the weapon as an Uzi, an Israeli-made submachine gun.

Cell phone video released by authorities Tuesday shows the moments before the fatal shots were fired, CNN affiliate KLAS reported.

This video is not graphic

In the video, Vacca and the girl are at an outdoor range. The wind blows a target in the distance. Vacca shows the child how to hold the gun then helps her establish her grip and her stance. She fires one round and dirt flies above the target. Vacca adjusts the Uzi, places his right hand on her back and his left under her right arm.

She fires several rounds in rapid succession and the gun kicks to the left as she loses control. The video ends before the fatal head shot. In releasing the video, authorities did not identify who made it.

KLAS reported the girl was a tourist from the Northeast.

The station spoke with Sam Scarmardo, who operates Bullets and Burgers, about the incident.

“We really don’t know what happened,” he said. “Our guys are trained to basically hover over people when they’re shooting. If they’re shooting right-handed, we have our right-hand behind them ready to push the weapon out of the way. And if they’re left-handed, the same thing.”

Vacca was married, well-liked and a veteran, KLAS said.

The range, which is about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, says on its Facebook page: “We separate ourselves from all other Las Vegas ranges with our unique ‘Desert Storm’ atmosphere and military style bunkers.”

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Filed in: News

36 comments

  • Kenny Powers

    Darwin strikes again, who lets a 9 year old handle an UZI? and I am guessing it was a full auto at that as I doubt she kept pulling the trigger over and over again. What happened to being satisfied with just plinking with a bolt action .22?

  • angel2

    This is tragic. My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Vacca’s family/friends. I REALLY cannot wrap my mind around the fact that a 9-year old was allowed to handle such a weapon…and why an Uzi on a firing range? I hope this will be a lesson to all firing ranges.

  • ken

    a lot of full grown women cannot handle the recoil of a 45 nevermind a 9mm uzi.this was just bad on the part of the range and they should be shut down.they give smart ranges and gun owners a bad name.

  • Luv Life!

    The girl’s parents should be ashamed of themselves! This was absolutely horrible! No child should ever be able to fire a weapon of any kind! So sad for the man who was killed.

  • guest

    It appears that the little girl wasn’t holding the gun with her left hand, and got away from her when she pulled the trigger. How awful for both families.

  • Kim

    Children fire weapons at that range all the time without this kind of tragedy taking place. The instructor failed to follow proper protocal. I feel bad for both families, but don’t allow your ignorance of firearms to lead you to pass judgement in such a negative fashion.

  • Tifany

    Prime example on why we should control the age limit at these gun ranges….. Who whats to teach a CHILD to use a firearm anyways smdh who’s to say one day any child gets up set at anybody go find a gun and shoot the next person this is sad…..Im not saying im against guns because they do save lives but remember when they are saving lives when u shoot their also taking one

  • Lauri

    They say charges will not be filed – Again, STUPIDITY should be a felony and the parents should be charged. If that girl grows up in one piece it will be in spite of her parents and their poor judgment.

  • Lauri

    Well, this child now has quite a story to write for her “what you did this summer” assignment. Hey, Mom & Dad – Thanks for the vacation and the memories! (I hope you have good health insurance because that child will need therapy for years.)
    How about going to Disneyland next year – you know, that place a nine year old should spend her vacation.

    • athynz

      Oh get over yourself. Seriously. Yes this a tragic situation. No, the 9 year old girl should not have been allowed to handle the weapon. Yes the instructor should have been hovering over her. Yes this poor girl will have to carry this burden for the rest of her life and the families will have to live with this the rest of theirs. To have the parents brought up on felony charges is ridiculous and does nothing more than add to the burden.

      • David

        athynz, it is obvious why you are accurately described as the true village idiot and sycophant. Try not to be an ignorant fat arse blowhard all of the time.

      • athynz

        “DAVID
        athynz, it is obvious why you are accurately described as the true village idiot and sycophant. Try not to be an ignorant fat arse blowhard all of the time.”

        David it’s quite obvious that you have nothing better to do than stalk and harass me and yet you cannot back up a single thing you say either online or in person. Why is that boy?

    • lori tanner

      As a parent of school age children, I agree with you. The childs caregiver should
      be brought on ignorance charges. The range is just looking to make a buck but this kid KILLED some innocent man.

  • Steel Mill

    Maybe something like soccer or girl scouts would have been more appropriate and safer.
    Wonder what the parents were thinking? Maybe that was the issue, they did not think.

  • Gail

    This is tragic in the fact that a good man lost his life because an idiot wanted their kid to fire an automatic weapon! A kid has NO BUSINESS with an automatic weapon-especially one who obviously has had no experience with fire arms at all!!! The parents are idiots!! Now they have screwed up their kid who I’m sure is messed up due to the fact that she’s killed someone & also another family who now has to suffer the horrible grief of losing a husband, friend & father!

  • Sara

    Kitty…how do you bring race into this? You must be a racist for you to post such a thing! RACE has nothing to do with this!

    I agree the parents should never have brought their child there.
    There also should be age limit laws at all shooting ranges.

    This girl is going to be permanently scarred for life, from what happened, those images are going to be forever burned in her brain because of both parties…her parents and the shooting range.

  • athynz

    So the fact that state law and the business allows this makes no difference in your condemnation of the parents? The fact that this is the only fatality from this practice makes no difference either? I’m so glad that you have never made a mistake ever in your life and can sit there and cast stones at those who have. Real good of you.

  • rip

    Feel sorry for the little girl who is going to live that moment for the rest of her life . let’s hope her parents are there for her when she wakes up screaming from her nightmares she is going to endure . As for the poor children of the instructor ( if any ) , daddy isn’t coming home because some little girls parents wanted a video of their little girl to put on YouTube looking tough .

  • Richard

    What their Facebook page says is “NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. JUST FIRE AWAY AND HAVE A BLAST! That locks up the lawsuit against them totally.

  • Gen Collins

    This entire incident is horrible. Loss of life. And a poor child that has to now live with this horrible memory. For some reason I doubt going shooting was her idea.

  • Gina

    Proper procedure to teach a 9 yo to shoot an Uzi. Step number 1 : pray the 80 pound 3rd grader doesn’t lose control of the machine gun and kill you. This girl will forget this happened her parent prob grabbed her and protected her from possible injury before the teacher/instructor hit the ground. She prob got ice cream for dinner. I wonder what kitty said (take white ppl to let they kids do this) I wouldn’t say I fully agree because stupid comes in all colors but I “figured” they were not black– not insinuating I thought the teacher and family where Caucasian. Rip

  • paula

    Luv life I agree with you. That was a dumb idea to let a child do that. What reason did a child needed to learn how to do that. Here we are trying to get the guns out of our kids hands and stop all the killing and here is a set of dumb### parent that teaching a child to use a gun. I hope they know it is their fault and yes they should been charge. They have also damage their daughter but that because they are brain damage themselves.

  • Carolyn

    This child is messed up for life, just knowing that her father died while she was learning to shoot a dag on Uzi. My prayer go out the that family. I hope that they get that child some therapy.

  • diane hollander

    I hope the state of NJ makes sure they investigate her parents. they endangered their child. perhaps the girl might do better if removed from the home.

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