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Family of girl who accidentally killed instructor with Uzi is 'devastated'

By Dana Ford and Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Charles Vacca was shot in the head as he showed the girl how to shoot
  • "Words cannot express the family's sadness," attorney says
  • The shooting occurred at a gun range in Arizona that caters to tourists

(CNN) -- The family of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally shot and killed an Arizona instructor with an Uzi is "devastated" and asking for privacy, according to a statement from a family lawyer.

"Words cannot express the family's sadness about the accidental shooting of Charles Vacca," attorney Kevin Walsh said Tuesday.

Child kills instructor with Uzi

"They are devastated by this accident that turned what was supposed to be a unique and brief excursion from their summer vacation into a life-changing tragedy. They are dealing with this privately as a family," he said.

Charles Vacca was shot in the head last month as he showed the New Jersey girl how to fire the Israeli-made 9mm submachine gun.

As she pulled the trigger, the gun jumped out of her left hand toward Vacca, who was standing beside her.

Authorities said the August 25 death was being handled as an industrial accident, with state occupational safety and health officials investigating. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also was notified.

Prosecutors said they expected no charges to be filed.

Cell phone video released by authorities shows the moments before the fatal shots were fired, CNN affiliate KLAS reported.

In the video, Vacca and the girl are at an outdoor range. The wind blows a target in the distance. Vacca shows the child how to hold the gun and then helps her establish her grip and her stance. She fires one round, and dirt flies above the target. Vacca adjusts the Uzi, places his right hand on her back and his left under her right arm.

She fires several rounds in rapid succession, and the gun kicks to the left as she loses control. The video ends before the fatal head shot. In releasing the video, authorities did not identify who made it.

Kids at the gun range

The shooting touched off a debate about whether children should be allowed to shoot guns like an Uzi.

Bullets and Burgers, the shooting range where the accident happened, is part of a tourism niche offering packages costing up to $1,000 to shoot different high-powered weapons. The range offers bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations and wedding events.

The Bullets and Burgers website says children between the ages of 8 and 17 can shoot a weapon if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

"Although certain people will seek to use this tragedy for their own partisan purposes and agendas, the family asks all compassionate Americans to pray for their children and the entire Vacca family. Please respect both families' privacy as they seek to deal with this tragic accident," attorney Walsh said.

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