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Arizona gun instructor accidentally killed by 9-year-old Jersey girl

DOLAN SPRINGS, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona shooting instructor was accidentally shot and killed while showing a 9-year-old girl from New Jersey how to use an automatic Uzi, authorities said Tuesday.

Bullets and Burgers restaurant and gun range in Arizona
Bullets and Burgers restaurant and gun range in Arizona (KVUU TV)

Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff’s officials said.

Vacca was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills located at a restaurant called Bullets and Burgers when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.

Authorities said the girl was at the shooting range with her parents. Her name was not released. ABC News reports no charges will be filed in the case.

A woman who answered the phone at the shooting range said it had no comment. She did not provide her name. KTNV reports that Vacca was married and was enlisted in the U.S. Army reserve with over a dozen years of military experience.

The website for Bullets and Burgers, according to CNN, said children between the ages of 8 and 17 can fire a weapon at the range if their parents are present. The website was not functioning on Wednesday morning. Owner Sam Scarmado tells ABC News that “we instruct kids as young as five with .22 rifles and they don’t get to handle high-powered firearms. But they’re under the supervision of their parents and of our professional range masters.”

Ronald Scott, a Phoenix-based firearms safety expert, said most shooting ranges have an age limit and strict safety rules when teaching children to shoot. He said instructors usually have their hands on guns when children are firing high-powered weapons.

“You can’t give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it,” Scott said.


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