The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Lawyer: Family of girl with Uzi who accidentally killed instructor is devastated by tragedy

  • Print
FILE - This Aug. 27, 2014 file photo shows people seen at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Ariz. The girl who accidentally killed the shooting range instructor, Charles Vacca, in northern Arizona had 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, Sept. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Enlarge Image

FILE - This Aug. 27, 2014 file photo shows people seen at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Ariz. The girl who accidentally killed the shooting range instructor, Charles Vacca, in northern Arizona had 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, Sept. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

PHOENIX - An attorney for the parents of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed an Arizona shooting range instructor with an Uzi said Tuesday the family is devastated by the tragedy that occurred on a brief excursion during a vacation.

The statement came as investigators released police reports and emergency call recordings involving the Aug. 25 shooting of instructor Charles Vacca at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles (100 kilometres) south of Las Vegas.

The police reports name the child's parents as Alex Gen and Alison MacLachlan and don't list the couple's hometown.

New Jersey-based lawyer Kevin Walsh said the family "prayed day and night that (Vacca) would survive his injury, and they continue to pray for his family during this terribly difficult time."

The police reports say that immediately after the shooting, the girl said she felt the gun was too much for her and had hurt her shoulder.

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

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. However, neither the reports nor the statement by Walsh explains why the parents let the girl take the Uzi.

The family had taken a shuttle from Las Vegas to the range. After arriving, the girl, her parents, sister and brother took a monster truck ride before heading 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, the reports state.

He then 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 reports.

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.

The reports describe the family as shaken by the accident.

Recordings of emergency calls show that people at the shooting range desperately tried to keep the unconscious Vacca alive as they urged police dispatchers to send a medical helicopter.

A dispatcher urged callers to apply pressure to Vacca's wound.

Vacca was flown to a Las Vegas hospital where he died hours later.

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

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

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

Sam Scarmardo, the range's operator, has said the parents had signed waivers saying they understood the rules. He also said he never had a safety problem before at the range and 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 have said they harbour no ill feelings toward the girl or her family. Instead, they feel sorry for the child and want to comfort her.

---

Cornfield contributed to this report from Trenton, New Jersey. News Researcher Rhonda Shafner also contributed to this report from New York.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Doug & Buck gear up for Grey Cup

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(  Standup photo)-    A butterfly looks for nector on a lily Tuesday afternoon in Wolseley-JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- June 22, 2010
  • A pelican comes in for a landing Wednesday afternoon on the Red River at Lockport, Manitoba - Standup photo- June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government subsidize Canadian airports?

View Results

Ads by Google