The family of the 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed her instructor at an Arizona shooting range is devastated by the tragedy, an attorney for the girl’s parents said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. Charles Vacca, the 39-year-old instructor, was shot in the head while training the child to use an Uzi submachine gun.
Kevin Walsh, a New Jersey-based lawyer, 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 AP noted.
Walsh’s statement came as investigators released police reports and 911 recordings involving the accident at Last Stop, an outdoor shooting range about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, which the family visited as part of a packaged tour with the company Bullets and Burgers. The police reports name the girl’s parents as Alex Gen and Alison MacLachlan, the AP said, but don’t list the couple’s hometown.
Last week, Vacca’s family expressed their support for the girl and said they hoped she could move on from the tragedy. “That’s truly how we feel,” his ex-wife, Anamarie Vacca, told the media. “I know we’re going to let her know to not revolve her life around it.”
According to police reports, the girl and her parents didn’t immediately realize that Vacca had been shot. The child said she felt the gun was too heavy and had hurt her shoulder, and her family members initially focused on her because they thought she was injured by the Uzi’s powerful recoil. It was only after one of Vacca’s colleagues ran over to him that they realized Vacca was shot, the AP noted. Vacca was airlifted to a Las Vegas hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
The accident has sparked a fresh round of debate in the United States over training children to handle firearms. The National Rifle Association drew criticism last week when it tweeted about new ways that children could “have fun” at shooting ranges. The founder of Arizonans for Gun Safety recently argued that rules to determine who can ride a roller coaster are more stringent than those for assessing who can shoot a military-grade weapon.