A US man left his five-year old granddaughter in a desert with a powerful, loaded handgun for protection while he allegedly visited a restaurant.
Paul Armand Rater, 53, from Buckeye, Arizona, was charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of child endangerment, rt.com reported.
The court heard on Monday that Rater picked up his granddaughter and took her for a drive on Sunday afternoon from her family house in Buckeye, about 50 km west of Phoenix.
Four hours later the five-year old was reported missing, and a helicopter search was initiated.
The court heard that the girl was then located by an off-duty firefighter and the girl’s mother.
The five-year old was uninjured but was clutching a .45-calibre loaded and cocked handgun given to her by her grandfather.
“She was given the gun and told to shoot any bad guys,” Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, said in a statement.
“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.”
rt.com reported that Rater was then found afterwards eating and drinking at a restaurant. He told police that his truck broke down and he and his granddaughter had to walk for assistance.
He then said the five-year old said she was tired and could no longer walk, so Rater left her by a tree with the firearm and “went for a few drinks and a cheeseburger,” the sheriff’s office said.
Bond was set at $25,000 at Rater’s court appearance on Monday. He doesn’t have a lawyer yet.