Police in Arizona say a 9-year-old girl who was learning how to shoot firearms accidentally shot her instructor earlier this week. Time.com reported Aug. 26 that the girl had been learning how to shoot an Uzi at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Ariz., and simply lost control of the gun when it recoiled.
The Mohave County Sheriff's Office said that Charles Vacca, 39, died Monday of a fatal gunshot wound to the head after his 9-year-old student lost control of the semi-automatic weapon she was learning to shoot. Authorities noted that the young girl had had no problem controlling the weapon, an Uzi submachine gun, when she fired it in single shot mode. But, when she pulled the trigger after switching to automatic mode, the gun kicked up over her head, a stray bullet striking Vacca.
Charles Vacca was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, police said, according to the Associated Press. He died shortly after his arrival.
Manager for the Last Stop shooting range, Sam Scarmando, told NBC News that "the established practice at most shooting ranges is 8 years old and up with parental supervision." He said Vacca was a "great guy, with a great sense of humor" and called him "very conscientious and very professional." He also noted that there hadn't been an injury at the Last Stop in the more than ten years the shooting range had been open.
Scarmando asked for prayers for Vacca and the young girl, whom, he said, is "going to have a hard time."
The girl, whose name has not been released, was at the shooting range with her parents. All were on vacation from New Jersey, according to Newser. They were recording the shooting tutorial when the accident occurred and turned over the video footage to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.
Ronald Scott, a Phoenix-based firearms safety expert, told the Associated Press that most instructors usually keep their hands on the guns placed in the hands of children, especially when firing high-powered weapons. "You can't give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it," he said.