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Arizona grandfather accused of leaving girl in desert with loaded gun

Paul Rater (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — An Arizona grandfather was arrested Monday after he allegedly left his granddaughter in the desert alone with a loaded gun.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Paul Armand Rater left his Buckeye home Sunday night with his 5-year-old granddaughter. Four hours later, she was reported missing.

A helicopter was dispatched to find the girl, who was believed to be in Rainbow Valley, about 12 miles from Buckeye. The search was called off after her family said she was found safe with a loaded .45-caliber handgun with the hammer cocked.

Rater was later found by deputies at a local feed store with a bar. He admitted to leaving the girl alone in the desert with the gun while he went for a few drinks and a cheeseburger. He told deputies he left the girl behind after she complained she couldn’t walk anymore.

Rater said he came across several people as he walked to the store. He told them to look for his granddaughter. He did not call 911.

Rater’s wife, Terri, told deputies that Rater seemed to be “pissed off” when he called her from the store and demanded to be picked up.

Rater was charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of child endangerment.

The girl was returned to her mother and deputies notified the Department of Child Safety of the incident. She was not injured.

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