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"You should not let this define you" kids of slain gun instructor tell girl

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The family of the gun instructor accidentally shot and killed by a 9-year-old girl in Arizona is speaking out about the incident, saying they realize it was an accident. The family of the gun instructor accidentally shot and killed by a 9-year-old girl in Arizona is speaking out about the incident, saying they realize it was an accident.

(TODAY) - The four grieving children of Arizona gun instructor Charles Vacca, who was killed accidentally last month while teaching a 9-year-old how to shoot an Uzi, have written a letter to the girl who shot their father. Here, they share their message:

"We don't know your name, but we are connected by this tragedy. In the news, we are just called ‘ the family,' ‘the 9-year-old girl,' ‘the instructor,' but we do have names. Our names are Ashley, Elizabeth, Tylor and Christopher. We are Charlie Vacca's kids. We wanted you to know something about him. Our dad wasn't just an instructor. He was funny, strong, a protector, a hero and our friend. He was a good man.

"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.  

WATCH | Charlie Vacca's children video statement

"Like you, we are living through this tragic event that we cannot shut off. It's with us all the time. Our dad would want you to know that you should move forward with your life. You should not let this define you. You should love yourself and love your family. Someday we hope we can meet you, hug you and tell you that it's okay."

"It was important for Charlie's kids to share a bit about the father they knew and loved, and to express their feelings to the 9-year-old girl. Now we intend to work cooperatively with authorities and with investigative agencies to determine how this could have happened, and more importantly, how it could have been prevented. Ultimately, it is our hope that through this process, we will bring some semblance of closure to this family."

Vacca family attorney James Goodnow, from Fennemore Craig:

"Charlie's family understands that this incident has spawned a broader national discussion about gun safety and automatic weapons in the hands of children. Although we feel that this discourse is important, and we intend to participate, Charlie's loved ones don't want it to overshadow the impact that this tragedy has had on everyone involved. On behalf of the family, we ask that you respect their privacy during this difficult time."


Vacca's children previously told TODAY they hoped to reach out to the girl's family with a message of comfort expressed in this video.

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