Arizona man arrested for leaving 5yo granddaughter in desert with gun to ‘shoot bad guys’

Chihuahuan Desert at Big Bend National Park. © Cqui
A 53-year-old man from Buckeye, Arizona, has been arrested for leaving his five-year-old granddaughter alone in the desert with a powerful handgun for protection.

Paul Armand Rater was charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of child endangerment. His bond was set at $25,000 at his initial court appearance Monday.

Rater took his granddaughter for a ride in his new pickup truck on Sunday afternoon from her family house in Buckeye, about 50 km west of Phoenix. Four hours later the girl was reported missing, prompting a helicopter search.

The girl was eventually found by her mother and an off-duty firefighter. The child was unharmed, but was holding a powerful .45-calibre loaded and cocked handgun, which, it turned out, her granddaddy gave her.

“She was given the gun and told to shoot any bad guys,” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. “I don’t know how a five-year-old can tell a good guy from a bad guy but that’s what she said she was told.”

Rater himself was located later eating and drinking at a restaurant. He explained that his truck broke down and he and the girl had to walk for help because he left his cellphone at home.

But the child complained the she was tired and couldn’t walk anymore, so Rater left her under a tree with a gun and “went for a few drinks and a cheeseburger,” the sheriff’s office said.