Family of gun instructor killed by 9-year-old calls for love, prayer


The children of an Arizona weapons instructor have reached out to comfort the 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed their father during a shooting lesson, telling her they pray for her and offering her love and hugs.

Charles Vacca, 39, a father of four from Lake Havasu City, was shot and killed Aug. 25 at the Last Stop gun range in White Hills when the girl lost control of the Uzi submachine gun she was using to practice. No charges have been filed in the incident.

“We don’t know your name, but we’re connected by this tragedy,” the children wrote in a letter they recited on a video uploaded by their attorney, Marc Lamber, on his website. Christopher Vacca, 11; Tylor Vacca, 14; Elizabeth Vacca, 15; and Ashley Moser, 19, took turns reading portions of the statement.


“You’re only 9 years old,” they said. “We think about you. We are worried about you. We pray for you, and we wish you peace. Our dad would want the same thing.”

In the heart-rending video, the children described their father: “Our dad wasn’t just an instructor: He was funny, strong, a protector, a hero and our friend. He was a good man.”

The family of the girl who fired the weapon was on vacation when they went to the shooting range about 60 miles south of Las Vegas.

In a video of the incident taken by the family on a cellphone, Vacca is shown instructing the girl on proper stance.

“All right, go ahead and give me one shot,” he is heard.

She fires the single shot and the instructor urges her: “All right, full auto.”

Then it all goes wrong when the recoil of the Uzi pulls the weapon upward, sending a bullet into Vacca’s head.

The girl’s parents, Alison and Alex Gen MacLachlan, said they were “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,” according to their statement released this month.


“Words cannot express the family’s sadness about the accidental shooting of Charles Vacca. They prayed day and night that he would survive his injury, and they continue to pray for his family during this terribly difficult time,” the statement read.

The incident will live on for both families, Vacca’s daughter Ashley said. “Like you, we are living through this tragic event that we cannot shut off,” she said. “It’s with us all the time.”

In the video, Elizabeth told the girl that Vacca would want her to move on with her life and not let the accidental shooting define her.

“Some day,” said Christopher at the conclusion of the family statement, “we hope we can meet you, hug you and tell you that it’s OK.”

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