911 calls released in accidental Uzi shooting

PHOENIX (AP) — A 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed a shooting range instructor with an Uzi 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.

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

LISTEN: 911 calls released in accidental deadly shooting at Ariz. gun range

The family, whose hometown hasn't been revealed by investigators, had taken a shuttle on Aug. 25 from Las Vegas about 60 miles south to the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona. Once arriving there, the girl, her parents, sister and brother took a monster truck ride before heading out to the shooting range.

The girl's father was the first one in the party to handle a weapon. After the father fired shots, Vacca showed the girl how to shoot the gun, showed her a shooting stance and helped her fire off a few rounds.

Then, he 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 report.

The girl dropped the Uzi, and Vacca fell to the ground.

At first, the family focused on the girl, who was holding her shoulder. Another instructor rushed over to help to Vacca. The other children were then taken away from the range, according to the report.

Prosecutors are not filing charges in the case.

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.

FAMILY RELEASES STATEMENT THROUGH LAWYER

Kevin G. Walsh, a Newark, New Jersey, attorney, said in a statement Tuesday that the girl's relatives prayed that Charles Vacca would survive his injuries and now pray for his family. They also asked for the public's prayers for them.

Walsh said the girl's family is dealing with the tragedy privately.

The family's complete statement:

"Words cannot express the family's sadness about the accidental shooting of Charles Vacca. They prayed day and night that he would survive his injury, and they continue to pray for his family during this terribly difficult time. The family also asks for the public's prayers for their own family.

"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. They are dealing with this privately as a family. They wish to thank the emergency first responders who tried heroically to save the life of Mr. Vacca, a military veteran who they were told served honorably overseas to defend America.

"Although certain people will seek to use this tragedy for their own partisan purposes and agenda, the family asks all compassionate Americans to pray for their children and the entire Vacca family. Please respect both families' privacy as they seek to deal with this tragic accident."


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