The grieving family of Charles Vacca, the Arizona shooting range instructor accidentally killed by a 9-year-old who was learning how to shoot an Uzi, said they feel “sorry” for the girl.
"We know it was a tragic accident and that it's something that we're all going to have to live with,” Vacca’s 19-year-old daughter Ashley said in an exclusive NBC News interview to be aired Friday on the TODAY show.
The 39-year-old veteran was teaching the girl how to use the automatic weapon Monday morning at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Arizona, when she pulled the trigger and the kickback caused the gun to lurch over her head, investigators said.
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“We really do want the prayers to be going out to the family of the little girl,” Ashley said, adding that she plans to write a letter to the girl’s family. “Our thoughts and our prayers are with them. We don’t want their life to revolve around this.”
Vacca’s ex-wife, Anamarie, said: “My heart goes out to the little girl and I feel sorry for her and for her family.”
The name of the girl, who was at the range with her parents, has not been released. Prosecutors say they will not file charges in the case. Vacca was hit by a stray bullet and airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he was pronounced dead late Monday.
Anamarie said the death was “a shock to the entire family.”
“It's a very difficult time for all of us just to adjust to losing him,” she said from their home in California. “Charles was definitely a good person and he was a good dad. He loved his children very much, and family was very important.”
His son Tyler, 14, said Vacca was “a fun person to be around,” adding: “We used to wrestle with him all the time.”
— Jody Hammond and Deb Huberman contributed to this report.