Shooting instructor dies after being accidentally shot by girl

Review Journal – by Dave Hawkins

KINGMAN, Ariz. — An instructor who was shot by a 9-year-old girl who fired an Uzi at a northwestern Arizona shooting range died Monday night at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

The girl fired the weapon at the outdoor range that caters to heavy tourism traffic along U.S. Highway 93 between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Highway signage and Internet advertising beckons visitors to stop in, fire a machine gun and enjoy a meal at the Bullets and Burgers enterprise at the Last Stop, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas.  

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office said the accidental shooting occurred about 10 a.m. Spokeswoman Trish Carter said the girl, who was vacationing from New Jersey with her parents, was standing next to the instructor at the time.

Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe described a video taken of the accident as “ghastly.” His office released a short video of the girl taking her first few shots.

He said the girl safely and successfully fired the 9 mm weapon several times when it was set in the “single-shot” mode.

He said the weapon was put into the “fully-automatic” mode before the girl fired again with the instructor standing off to her left. The weapon recoiled and drifted left as the girl squeezed off an undetermined number of rounds as she maintained possession but lost control of the Uzi as it raised up above her head.

“The guy just dropped,” McCabe said of shooting instructor Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, who suffered at least one gunshot to the head.

Jeff Frichette, director of training for The Range 702 in Las Vegas, said the incident in Arizona would never occur at his business. He credited this to how continuously shooting range’s safety officers are trained.

“Hypothetically” a 9-year-old would be able to shoot a fully-automatic weapon, but it’s a discretionary decision, he said.

That decision is based on physical and safety guidelines, he said.

Children need to understand the concept of safety before they are allowed to shoot, Frichette said.

Also, they must be “physically and mentally prepared” before they are allowed to shoot a fully automatic weapon. This includes a 4-foot height requirement, he said, adding that even then, they have to master other weapons such as a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle before they’re allowed to shoot a fully automatic.

He added that a petite-looking child would likely only be allowed to shoot a semi-automatic rifle.

The Review-Journal contacted several other gun ranges in Las Vegas. One did not return a call and officials at another two declined to comment.

An autopsy on Vacca’s body will be performed by the Clark County coroner’s office.

McCabe said no citations will be issued and no charges will be filed as the shooting range is a licensed and legal operation.

The Bullets and Burgers website markets a unique shooting experience for customers.

“Our guests have the opportunity to fire a wide range of fully automatic machine guns and specialty weapons,” the website states. “At our range, you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns.

“Let ‘em Rip!”

Las Vegas Review-Journal writer Ricardo Torres contributed to this report.

12 thoughts on “Shooting instructor dies after being accidentally shot by girl

  1. A similar incident happened a few years ago in which a little boy shot himself when unable to handle the recoil of a full auto weapon. Anyone not used to how this type of gun recoils and climbs should not handle one without thorough instruction and practice.

  2. When ever I am teaching some one the use of a fire arm
    I only place ONE round in the chamber..I never fill the mag and let them “go at it”

    its one at a time until they get how everything goes.

    even with only one round in you can still get someone that just doesnt understand that a muzzle sweep is like seeing your life flash before your eyes (literally)

    now i understand that this is supposed to be the experience of shooting a full auto weapon..well first off find out if your “new guy” can handle the weapon to begin with, second, use a long gun first to teach ,not a pistol or even carbine
    muzzle sweep of a pistol covers way more real estate in a small area quickly

    a rifle is long and a lot harder to flail it around

    I also stand slightly to the left, and back a few steps, but even way before all of this..I make them understand that where ever the end of that barrel is pointed is what will be dead when they light it off..even if its over their head or down to their feet.. the gun has no brain it relies on your brain to be used and properly understand of all the dynamics that are going on

    I had no problem teaching this to my kids, and they shot many of different firearms by the time they were 15..starting them out with BB guns and pellet guns at 5 or 6 years old

    I really dont think you can teach all that needs to be taught about gun safety and control to a 9 year old in a 15 minuet Fun Time, let alone the operation of a full auto Uzi

    I know this will sound harsh..But Gun safety isnt something to take lightly and neither is proper gun educating, some of the problems we gun owners face are brought on by people like this “instructor”

  3. MSNBC was all over this one today when they were not showing their ISIS and Ferguson racial propaganda. They, of course, wanted to use it as an excuse for their gun control propaganda. Regardless, of what happened, they of course didn’t let this incident go to waste.

  4. Never shot at an outdoor range since I was 12.

    I’ve only used an indoor range once or twice, along time ago, but I’d happened to look up, and signaled my friend 2 lanes down, to look up.

    Try it. Tell me what you see…

    Why I stopped going.

  5. I’m with VRF on this one. If you put an uzi into a baby’s hand, you better keep a sharp eye on her. The instructor is responsible for what happened, and full-auto was a stupid idea.

    when that thing started kicking, I’ll bet the little girl held on as tight as she could, and that trigger wasn’t going to be released until the magazine was empty, regardless of where the muzzle was pointed.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.