Cops say a man from Arizona abandoned his five-year-old granddaughter, alone in the desert, with a loaded handgun.
Paul Rater, 53, has been charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of child endangerment after allegedly abandoning the little girl in wilderness just outside Phoenix.
The pair set out for a ride in the desert late Sunday, and four hours later the little girl was reported missing. Police began to look for her after the girl’s mother reported her missing, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
According to the incident report, the victim told her grandmother, "I don't know why papa left me. I was calling out for him. He took me by some bushes, gave me a gun and left," KPHO reported.
Cops ended up having to use a helicopter to track her down, but it was a firefighter on an ATV who ended up hearing her cries. When they finally caught up with her, she was holding the 45-caliber handgun, which was loaded and cocked, authorities said,
Rater was quickly tracked down at a local store, and he admitted to abandoning his grandchild in the desert, KPHO reported. He reportedly said he went for a few drinks and a cheeseburger after leaving her there.
He reportedly told authorities that his truck got stuck and he had to walk for help and only abandoned her under a tree after she couldn't walk any further.
“She was given the gun and told to shoot any bad guys,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
Rater has been charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of child endangerment, and given a $25,000 bond. No attorney is listed.
The child was returned to her mother and the Department of Child Safety was notified.