DEATH AT SHOOTING RANGE
PHOENIX (AP) — An attorney for the parents of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed an Arizona shooting range instructor with an Uzi said Tuesday that the family is devastated by the tragedy, which occurred on a brief excursion during a vacation.
The statement came as investigators released police reports and 911 recordings involving the Aug. 25 shooting of instructor Charles Vacca at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas.
The police reports name the child's parents as Alex Gen and Alison MacLachlan. They 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 said 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.
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 the father fired, 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, which huddled around her as she held her shoulder. Another instructor rushed to help to Vacca. The other children were then taken away from the range.
Prosecutors are not filing charges in the case. Arizona's workplace safety agency is investigating the death.
County prosecutors said 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 the video. He then cheers when she fires one round at the target.
"All right full auto," Vacca says. The video, which does not show the actual incident, ends with a series of shots being heard.
Vacca's ex-wife and children have said they harbor no ill feelings toward the girl or her family. Instead, they feel sorry for the child and want to comfort her.