Grandfather charged with leaving five-year-old girl alone in desert with loaded gun
A grandfather has been arrested after he left his granddaughter alone in the desert with a loaded and cocked .45-caliber handgun and told her to "shoot the bad guys."
Paul Armand Rater (53) from Phoenix, Arizona was charged with two counts of felony child abuse and one count of felony child endangerment arising from the incident on Sunday night.
Reuters report that Rater and the child left their home in Buckeye, 48km west of Phoenix, in a pickup truck early on Sunday afternoon.
The child was reported missing four hours later.
She was eventually found in the desert by her mother and an off-duty fireman who were searching for her.
The girl was holding the handgun when the search party located her.
“She was given the gun and told to shoot any bad guys,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio told Reuters.
“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.”
Meanwhile Rater was arrested at a grocery shop and told police the truck had broken down and he had left the girl in the desert because she was complaining she couldn't walk anymore.
"He admitted leaving the girl with his gun while he went for a few drinks and a cheeseburger,” the sheriff’s office said.
The Sheriff's office confirmed the child was returned to her mother, and state child welfare authorities were informed.