Vacca, a former Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Arizona when the strength of the recoil yanked the Uzi upward. He was shot once in the head, and died at a local hospital several hours later. The girl and her family have not been named publically.
Although many have criticized the girl’s parents and the shooting range for letting a nine year old handle an automatic weapon, the four children — Christopher, Tylor, Elizabeth and Ashley, ages 11 through 19 — did not want the media discourse to “overshadow the impact this tragedy has had on everyone involved,” the family’s lawyer said.
In the letter released by their family attorney James Goodnow, Vacca’s children wrote: “You’re only 9 years old. 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. […] Our dad would want you to know that you should move forward with your life. You should not let this define you.”
Goodnow confirmed that it was the children’s idea to write the letter. “It’s rare to see something so human in a legal situation like this,” he added.
The maturity of the four Vacca children should be an example for all of the pundits who want to turn a clearly heartbreaking event into another news clip or sound bite.