No charges after girl (9) shoots dead instructor with Uzi
Police say no charges will be filed against a US gun range after a child lost control of an Uzi 9mm and accidentally shot dead an instructor
Published 28/08/2014 | 13:59
Police have said no charges will be filed against a gun range after a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot dead her instructor with an Uzi 9mm sub-machinegun
Police released a video of the lead up to the incident at the "Bullets and Burgers" range near Las Vegas, which was believed to have been filmed on a mobile phone by the girl's parents.
It showed her dressed in pink shorts, grey t-shirt and pumps, with her hair in a long braid, both hands clutching the Israeli-made weapon which was capable of firing 600 rounds a minute.
With the gun on "single shot" mode she fired several times at a target before instructor Charlie Vacca, 39, a former soldier, cheered and turned the gun to fully automatic.
Vacca, dressed in military-style camouflage trousers, was filmed telling the girl: "Turn this leg forward, there you go, just like that. Alright, go ahead and give me one shot. Alriiiiight! Alright full auto..."
The video then cut off but, according to police, the girl immediately lost control of the high powered Uzi as it recoiled and jumped skyward.
She maintained her grip but it raised up above her head and at least one bullet struck Vacca in his head. He was airlifted to hospital in Las Vegas where he was pronounced dead.
Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe described the full unedited video as "ghastly" and added: “The guy just dropped."
The girl was on holiday with her parents from New Jersey and they had stopped at Bullets and Burgers, which is in Arizona, between the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sheriff McCabe said no one would be charged with a crime because the gun range was fully licensed.
It is illegal for children under the age of 18 to carry a gun in Arizona but the rule does not apply on private property, or if the youngster is accompanied by a parent or certified instructor.
Gun ranges can make a discretionary decision on whether to instruct children in automatic weapons.
According to its Facebook page Bullets and Burgers says: "We separate ourselves from all other Las Vegas ranges with our unique Desert Storm atmosphere and military style bunkers. At our range, you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns. Let ‘em Rip!"
Sam Scarmardo, who runs Burgers and Bullets, said it was common for gun ranges to instruct children on weapons like Uzis.
He said: "The established practice at most shooting ranges is eight-years-old and up with parental supervision. We instruct kids as young as five in .22 rifles. They are under the supervision of their parents and our range masters.
"We really don't know what happened. Our guys are trained to basically hover over people when they're shooting.
"If they're shooting right handed, we have our right hand behind them ready to push the weapon out of the way. And if they're left handed the same thing."
Friends described Vacca as "very conscientious and very professional" and a "great guy, with a great sense of humour."
Mr Scarmardo said: "I just ask everybody to pray for Charlie. And pray for the client. She’s going to have a hard time."
A spokesman for the Sheriff's office said: "Further investigations determined the girl pulled the trigger on the automatic Uzi, the recoil sent the gun over her head and the victim was shot."
Ronald Scott, an Arizona-based gun safety expert, said range instructors usually keep their hands on high powered weapons when children are firing them.
He said: "You can't give a nine-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it."