Girl, 9, Accidentally Kills Instructor While Firing an Uzi

The girl lost control of sub-machine gun while visiting shooting range.

ByABC News
August 27, 2014, 12:59 AM

— -- A 9-year-old girl being taught how to use an Uzi sub-machine gun lost control of the powerful weapon and accidentally killed her instructor, authorities said.

The shooting happened at 10 a.m. Monday at Bullets and Burgers, a gun range within the Arizona Last Stop tourist recreational complex southeast of Las Vegas.

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According to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, the instructor –- identified as Charles Vacca, 39 –- was standing next to the girl, teaching her how to use the Uzi. The girl's parents, who are from New Jersey, stood nearby, capturing video of the experience.

Sam Scarmardo, a former Lake Havasu City Council member who operates the shooting range, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the girl's parents signed waivers saying they understood the rules of the range and were standing nearby, video-recording their daughter, when the accident happened.

"I have regret we let this child shoot, and I have regret that Charlie was killed in the incident," Scarmardo said.

The girl, in a gray T-shirt, pink shorts and her hair in a braid, can be seen in the video being advised to adjust her feet. "All right, go ahead and give me one shot," Vacca is heard telling her.

The instructor praises the girl for the shot and then tells her, "All right full auto."

As the girl pulled the trigger, and the recoil caused her to lose control of the gun, with Vacca accidentally shot in the head, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office said. Vacca was flown to the University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

Sam Scarmardo, the gun range operator, was distraught about Vacca's death.

"It's like losing a brother," Scarmardo said. "These aren't employees or associates of ours, these are family. We're all family."

Many gun ranges allow children who are 8 years and older –- with parental supervision –- to shoot firearms, Scarmardo said.

"We instruct kids as young as 5 on .22 rifles, and they don't get to handle high firearms, but they're under the supervision of their parents and of our professional range masters," Scarmardo said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.