US & Canada

Arizona shooting: Family of girl shooter 'devastated'

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Media captionVideo released by the Mohave County Sheriff's Department shows Charles Vacca teaching the nine-year-old shortly before the accident happened

The family of a nine-year-old girl who killed her shooting instructor by accident have been "devastated" by the tragedy, says their lawyer.

They "prayed day and night" that the man would survive his injury, said lawyer Kevin Walsh.

The girl was being shown how to use a high-powered Uzi sub-machine gun at an Arizona shooting range when the recoil caused her to lose control of it.

Charles Vacca, 39, was shot in the head and died after being taken to hospital.

"Words cannot express the family's sadness about the accidental shooting of Charles Vacca," said Mr Walsh.

"They are devastated by this accident that turned what was supposed to be a unique and brief excursion from their summer vacation into a life-changing tragedy."

The statement came as investigators released police reports that say the girl complained the gun was "too much for her and it hurt her shoulder" when it went off.

In the seconds after the shooting, her relatives thought she had been injured and did not realise the instructor had been shot, the reports said.

Image copyright AFP


  • Sub-machine gun designed in 1950s for Israel's army
  • Exported to many countries and used in many conflicts
  • Capable of automatic or semi-automatic fire
  • Standard rate of fire 600 rounds per minute

The family had caught a shuttle from their hotel in Las Vegas to the Last Stop shooting range, and they had a ride in a monster truck before they came to the range.

The first to shoot was the father and next came the turn of the young daughter, according to the father's statement to police.

It is still not known why the parents let the girl take the Uzi.

Prosecutors are not filing charges but the state's workplace safety agency is investigating the death.

It is common in parts of the US for children to be taught how to use firearms.

A similar incident in 2008 killed an eight-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself in the head during a gun expo in Massachusetts.

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