DOLAN SPRINGS, Ariz. (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — An instructor at a northwestern Arizona shooting range dies after a 9-year-old girl accidentally fired an Uzi at him while he was showing her how to use it.
The shooting took place Monday morning in Dolan Springs, a small town about an hour’s drive toward Kingman off US Highway 93.
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 when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.
“Vacca was standing next to the girl while he was instructing her how to use to weapon when the accident happened. 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,” the sheriff’s office told KLAS-TV in a statement.
Investigators added that no laws were broken at the gun range.
Unconfirmed reports say Vacca was shot at least twice in the head.
Authorities said the girl was at the shooting range with her parents. Her name was not released.
Range operator Sam Scarmardo said that they’ve never had this type of incident for the 12 years they’ve been open.
“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,” he told KLAS.
The gun range has already changed its procedures following the deadly accident, stating that children must be at least 12 years of age or at least 5 feet tall to shoot guns.
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.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)