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Police: Grandfather left girl, 5, alone in desert with loaded gun

By
Ben Hooper
Paul Rater allegedly left 5-year-old granddaughter in the desert with a loaded gun. Photo Courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Paul Rater allegedly left 5-year-old granddaughter in the desert with a loaded gun. Photo Courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

BUCKEYE, Ariz., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- An Arizona grandfather was arrested on allegations he left his 5-year-old granddaughter alone in the desert with a loaded gun to "shoot the bad guys."

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said Paul Rater, 53, was driving his pickup truck with his 5-year-old granddaughter Sunday in the desert near Buckeye when the truck broke down.

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Rater told a judge Tuesday he placed his granddaughter under a tree so she could nap in the shade while he went for help and he left his .45-caliber handgun, which was loaded and cocked, with the child because he "didn't want to carry it."

Rater was found miles away at a local bar drinking alcoholic beverages and eating a cheeseburger. The child was found by a firefighter alone in the desert holding the loaded gun.

Deputies said Rater didn't ask anyone for help or mention the whereabouts of his granddaughter until after his arrest.

"He told her [the gun] was to shoot the bad guys. How does a 5-year-old know the difference between good guys and bad guys," Sheriff Joe Arpaio told ABC 15 Arizona.

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Rater was charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of endangerment. He was jailed in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

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