A grandfather from Buckeye, Arizona, has been arrested for child endangerment after leaving his 5-year-old granddaughter alone in the desert with a loaded gun. The man claimed the gun was so she could fend off any bad guys who attacked her. Meanwhile, he went to get some liquor and a cheeseburger.
According to ABC News, 53-year-old Paul Rater drove the child to the desert on Sunday afternoon. Her family noticed her missing and reported the disappearance to the authorities four hours later.
The girl was found crying for help in the middle of the desert by an off-duty firefighter who was helping the family search for her on an ATV. With the 5-year-old was a.45 caliber handgun. It was both loaded and cocked.
“He told her it was to shoot the bad guys,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. “How does a 5-year-old know the difference between good guys and bad guys?”
Police later found Paul Rater at a local store, having gone out for drinks and a cheeseburger. He admitted to leaving the 5-year-old in the desert with the loaded gun, but claimed it was because his truck got stuck. He forgot his cell phone, so he and his granddaughter had to abandon the truck in the desert and walk to seek help. Once the 5-year-old couldn’t walk any further, Paul Rater left her behind under a tree with a loaded gun in case any “bad guys” showed up.
After walking to the South Buckeye Equestrian Center, Paul Rater complained that he had just traveled 10 miles on foot in the desert, but never thought to mention the 5-year-old granddaugher he left behind. He never asked for help about the stranded truck. Instead, Rater had some food and drinks then called his wife to come give him a ride home.
According to Heavy, employees of the store claim Paul Rater consumed up to four alcoholic beverages, along with a jalapeno cheeseburger. When he called his wife he told her, “get your a** to the feed store and pick me up.”
The 5-year-old later told Paul Rater’s wife, her grandmother, that grandpa had abandoned her in the desert.
“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 me.”
The granddaughter has since been reunited with her mother. The Department of Child Safety was notified of the desert incident. Paul Rater has been charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of child endangerment. He was thrown in jail on a $25,000 bond.
In court, Paul Rater stuck to the story about the truck breaking down in the desert. Apparently, even his side of the story was incriminating enough for the judge to remind him that his words were being recorded.
“I got lost. I took a wrong path,” Paul Rater said. “I came back around. I see a truck, I find out it’s [expletive] mine. This is where I spent three hours. I start walking back, yelling for my granddaughter. I never got any [expletive] response. I tried to dig the truck out again, but I couldn’t. I was so thirsty I couldn’t stand it. I started walking to see if I could see [my granddaughter] again to make sure she was OK. I didn’t see her. I call for her. She said she was tired so I guess she went to sleep and took a nap.”
To see the unapologetic Paul Rater make his case about why he left her in the desert, watch the video below.
How do you think Paul Rater should be punished for leaving a 5-year-old in the desert?
[Photo courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]