WHITE HILLS (AZ Central) – The Bullets and Burgers gun range at Arizona Last Stop fell silent this week.
No high-powered rounds could be heard at the biker bar a mile down the road, no tourists were allowed to try firing a fully automatic rifle, and no downrange neighbors feared a stray bullet. The range has closed indefinitely.
It was the week Lance Krig had both hoped for and feared since 2012. On Monday, a 9-year-old New Jersey girl would lose control of an Uzi and fatally shoot her firearms instructor.
"I walk my dog down this road right here," Krig said Wednesday from White Hills, the remnant of a former silver-mining town just east of U.S. 93, roughly halfway between Kingman and Las Vegas. "You can't imagine what it's like to be downrange when a barrage of gunpowder is released with no notice."
Krig became reacquainted with the range in early 2012, when he returned to the state. His brother owns neighboring property at the Triangle Airpark, and Krig quickly began fearing for his and the public's safety.
He filed suit against the business in Mohave County Superior Court using the only known tool at his disposal: a noise violation. But his motives were broader.
Bullets and Burgers gun range, the place where instructor Charles Vacca, 39, was shot and killed accidentally by a 9-year-old with an uzi, had drawn concerns from residents in the area.
Krig said he hoped to convince a judge to suspend the range's operations until it could be properly inspected. His concerns, he said, were for himself, his neighbors and those allowed to test-drive fully automatic weaponry.
"The explosive potential of these weapons is such that it could easily induce bodily function failures (heart attack, etc.) or reactionary distractions leading to immediate injury or death," he wrote in a court document.
News of this week's death of instructor Charles Vacca, 39, sparked a national discussion on gun safety and whether there are ever enough safety precautions in place when an automatic weapon is in the hands of a child.
The Mohave County Sheriff's Office has declined to pursue criminal charges.
"The Sheriff's Office investigation is completed," the agency said in a Wednesday statement. "Based on the video (of the shooting), the Sheriff's Office has determined no charges are pending. The sheriff is not available for comment. No interviews will be given."
A video excerpt shot by the girl's parents and released by sheriff's officials shows Vacca instructing the girl on a proper firing stance.
Wearing pink shorts and with her hair pulled into a ponytail braid, she fires several shots.
Vacca, described by friends as an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is standing behind and to the left of the girl. He reaches in and appears to engage the automatic mechanism. When the girl pulls the trigger, the recoil appears to force her arms upward and to the left toward Vacca.
Sheriff's officials said the case is being viewed as an industrial accident and will be reviewed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Attempts to reach a representative from the OSHA office in Phoenix late Wednesday afternoon were unsuccessful.
Located on U.S. 93, the World Famous Arizona Last Stop has all the hallmarks of a successful tourist trap. Murals depicting alien invasions and its "world famous" burger coat nearly every surface from the gas pumps to the walls of the gun-range office. Life-size cutouts of movie stars dot the parking lot.
Few themes at the site are more prominent than the lure to shoot a machine gun.
"Ask about machine guns," says a sign leading into the diner. On the way out, a mural warns, "Last chance to shoot a machine gun."
But tourists who intended to do just that were disappointed Wednesday afternoon. Employees told a family that the range was closed for the day before rushing them out.
One worker, who declined to give his name, said no one knew when the range would reopen.
"It's a tragic accident," he said. "We're all still mourning our friend. ... We felt like everyone here was family."
Sam Scarmardo, who operates the outdoor range in the desert, told the Associated Press Wednesday that the parents had signed waivers saying they understood the rules, and they were standing nearby, recording their daughter, when the accident occurred.
The minimum age to shoot at the range was 8 years old. Children younger than 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The 27 seconds of video showing the girl as she fires at a black-silhouette target helped feed the furor on social media and beyond.
"I have regret we let this child shoot, and I have regret that Charlie was killed in the incident," Scarmardo said. He said he doesn't know what went wrong.
Few others at the range, diner or gas station cared to speak publicly about the incident, but gun-rights advocates and gun critics were eager.
Charles Heller, former director of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, said machine guns are well within legal boundaries when handled properly.
"There are three simple rules, and I'll say it again: Treat all guns as dangerous, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep your finger off the trigger until you decide to fire," Heller said. "Every single gun accident is a result of the rules not being followed."
Deborah Parker, a woman whose teenage daughter was killed in a drive-by shooting, questioned the actual need for a child to handle an automatic weapon in any capacity.
"This weapon has no other use than to kill — that's what it was invented for, that's its only purpose," she said. "Besides hunting, this weapon has no purpose."
Krig prevailed in his original noise-violation case.
Mohave County Development Services "informed the operators at Last Stop that they were not to use weaponry that exceeded the design limitation of their shooting range, and they could not use exploding targets," according to a letter Krig received in September 2012 from Christine Ballard, divisional manager of planning and zoning.
His other allegations held less weight. A judge in preliminary proceedings noted that no other plaintiffs joined Krig to argue the potential dangers and noise of the range and said that the range was within its zoning rights.
Krig says the fatal incident on Monday was predictable.
"This was exactly what I said was going to happen," he said.