“Shoot Any Bad Guys”: Arizona Grandfather Arrested After Leaving 5-Year-Old Girl In Desert With Loaded Handgun While He Went Out For a Cheeseburger

Paul-Armand-Rater_3490361b Paul Armand Rater, 53, is facing two counts of felony child abuse and one count of felony child endangerment after he gave a loaded and cocked .45-calibre handgun to his 5-year-old granddaughter and left her in the desert. I told her to “shoot any bad guys.”

The incident happened near their home in Buckeye (about 30 miles west of Phoenix). The little girl was later found by her mother and a volunteer firefighter wandering for hours in the desert with the still cocked and loaded .45 handgun.

As for Rater, he was located in a store and said that his vehicle broke down. He said that he left the girl under a tree in the desert because she was complaining she could not walk any more. He admitted leaving her with the gun “while he went for a few drinks and a cheeseburger.”

That should do it for a sentence and jail time.

Fortunately a felony conviction will likely bar Rater for owning weapons in the future.

What do you think the appropriate sentence should be?

42 thoughts on ““Shoot Any Bad Guys”: Arizona Grandfather Arrested After Leaving 5-Year-Old Girl In Desert With Loaded Handgun While He Went Out For a Cheeseburger”

  1. SteveG – I dearly hope it is not Munchausen by Proxy, which is one of the cruelest disorders.

    Jack: I could be wrong, but I thought it was a revolver in the story, not a pistol. I watched the first few seconds of the video you posted, and the slide was already pulled back for him when he started. It’s pretty difficult to pull the slide back on a pistol, and I doubt a young child could do it. The gun is too heavy for the boy to hold up on his own, and he’s bracing his arms on the bench. The child in the video also seems older than 5, although in my age, he’s still not old enough to be at a shooting range. Kids do not have adult brains. They do goofball things. All he has to do is turn around with his finger inside the trigger guard, and it’s an accident waiting to happen. I couldn’t watch the whole video, but I saw quite a bit of recoil. His arm went up about 45 degrees. I think the traditional age of 12 is much better, and even then under very close supervision and only certain conditions.

    By comparison, my 5 year old knows quite well the rules of the road. He knows he has to stop at the street/parking lot and look both ways before walking. And yet, I’ve had to grab him by the collar a couple of times when he’s gotten distracted and rushed forward. There is zero chance that I’d consider 5 a safe age to handle a firearm, and even the thought of doing so unattended is just beyond me.

    Whether it was a pistol or a revolver, I strongly believe that Grandpa either pulled the slide back or cocked it. I do not believe her hands would have been strong enough to do it on her own.

    The decision tree was so wrong that got the pair to this point, it boggles the mind.

  2. What’s that old saying–you know, the one about how you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family? We aren’t responsible for who, by a freak accident of nature, happens to be related to us, BUT we ARE responsible with when it comes down to with WHOM we CHOOSE to entrust our most precious commodity–our children. Given Grandpa’s current antics, I would be willing to bet that there were some prior indicators of a propensity to engage in unwise, irresponsible and foolish behavior. Just a hunch, of course. Mom, and the rest of the gang, bear some responsibility for allowing Gramps to have this young child in an unsupervised environment if, in fact, I am correct in my assumption that 53 year old Gramps has exhibited some not-so-responsible behavior in the past. Again, just an assumption, but I have a feeling that the whole clan is a cluster€®»&. Hope this kid makes it past 6 years of age.

  3. “Only reason why I got something to eat was I hadn’t eaten in six hours. I drank two sodas and then I started drinking beer because I don’t like soda, so, I was dehydrated.”

    Sooooo…..Grandpa hasn’t eaten in 6 whole hours. Big whoop. How about the 5 year old child? When did she last eat? Then instead of getting someone to go back with him to retrieve his granddaughter….he sits down, orders a burger (with fries we hope) and drinks two sodas, despite not liking soda. But poor grandpa is still dehydrated so he must have some beer. Hey. How about some water for that dehydration??

    Do we think that the granddaughter might be dehydrated too. Nope. She is just a whiny pissy little biatch according to this guy. Evidently poor grandpa wasn’t that concerned about her.

    Any decent human being would have first asked for help for his granddaughter, and then started on sodas and beers and a cheeseburger.

    In our area, if someone wandered in to the bar/restaurant and said that they had left their child/grandchild in the wilderness under a tree….there would be no shortage of people who would volunteer immediately to get into their vehicles and take the man back to pick up the child. And if he was so hungry, they would have made him a ham sandwich and given him some water. But….instead of organizing a search party…….he takes at least a half hour or hour to refresh himself and hydrate himself and enjoy a burger. What a creep.

    There is no way that his story holds together.

    And as Karen states, there is no way a child could cock and arm that weapon. He purposely abandoned her in the wilderness with a purposely loaded and dangerous weapon that a child of that age has no ability to control much less be given to use.

    1. DBQ – unless you have lived in the desert and been really dehydrated you have no idea how much fluid you need to replace. Actually, he should have been drinking water, but that is water under the bridge.

      We are a continually growing area with newcomers everyday. Buckeye is on the edge of the desert and is a 2 to 3 mile drive into the desert. All desert looks alike. If you have seen one cholla, you have seen them all. The more I think about this story, the more I think he hasn’t lived here long.

  4. Bettykath:

    I’m so irritated with this man. Poor baby. He hadn’t eaten in 6 hours? I go that long without food all the time. Any decent human being would have first asked for help for his granddaughter, and then started on sodas and beers and a cheeseburger.

    I am really suspicious about this whole scenario. I hope they fully investigate this, because it is possible he wanted her dead while giving himself an alibi. He put his gun down, right next to her, because it was too heavy to carry? I have a similar firearm, and it IS heavy. I also think it’s impossible for a 5 year old to cock all by herself. Or maybe he had been drinking in the truck and was already hammered. He never got any response? Well, did he go back to where he left her? And the “pissing and moaning” comment appears to show some animosity towards the little girl.

    So far, the only discrepancy between his story and the news is the bit about “shoot the bad guys.” Did they get that little nugget from the granddaughter? Because there needs to be a plausible explanation for how the gun was cocked.

    Did he have permission to take the girl out? As I’ve mentioned before, rational, responsible people do not usually become such idiots without involving anesthesia.

    1. Karen S, your comment brings to mind Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, a mental disorder characterized by attention sought by a caretaker.

      Of course, this wouldn’t mitigate what he did.

  5. His story at his arraignment:

    His truck broke down while he and his granddaughter were four-wheeling in the desert.

    Rater explained that he took the girl, who had not been for a ride in his newly purchased truck, to a rugged area he had driven through previously in another vehicle.

    “I got stuck. I got buried and I couldn’t get out,” Rater said. “So, I walk with my granddaughter, … dammit. Alright. So, I walk with my granddaughter. She was crying, pissing and moaning cause she got tired. She wanted to take a nap and so I put her under a shade tree. I put my gun down because I didn’t want to carry it.”

    Rater explained that he continued walking but eventually circled back for the girl.

    “I started walking back, yelling for my granddaughter, I never got any … response,” he said. “… I tried to dig the truck out again. By then, I was so thirsty, I couldn’t stand it. So I started walking to see if I could see her again, make sure she was OK. I didn’t see her. I called for her. She said she was tired, so I guess she went to sleep, took a nap.”

    Rater said he continued to walk on in search of a phone, because he had left his at home, and wandered into a restaurant/bar and feed store.

    “Once he was in civilization, he went to a bar, had a drink, had a hamburger, didn’t bother to tell anyone there was a 5-year-old child missing in the desert,” Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Jeffrey Pitts told Abe. “He was in care of the child, he placed her in extreme danger by leaving her in the elements like that.”

    Rater countered, “Only reason why I got something to eat was I hadn’t eaten in six hours. I drank two sodas and then I started drinking beer because I don’t like soda, so, I was dehydrated.”

    An off-duty firefighter and the girl’s grandmother, who along with others had been scouring the desert by ATV, eventually located the girl Sunday night after hearing a small voice respond to people calling her name about five miles east of State Route 85 and south of the Gila River.

    Prosecutors believe the girl may have been alone for five hours. The child, who was unharmed, was holding the firearm when she was found. It was fully loaded, with one round in the chamber and the hammer locked back, according to a probable-cause statement.

    1. Here, as standard practice, there’d be a child welfare services investigation, and the parents would be warned that if the child is ever is found to be alone with the grandfather again she’ll become a ward through a dependency proceeding.

      Grandpa needs to get off the drugs and/or alcohol (bam bam – that’s only if the allegations are found to be true).

  6. At that age and size, she would have been an object of interest to coyotes. And there are still mountain lions in some parts of AZ. Plus there are a lot of rattle snakes in the desert. Cholla cactus. Agave. Dehydration. Just, not a good place for an unattended small child. The thought of a young kid out there, crying and drawing attention to herself with no one around to protect her makes me so made at this man. And he admitted to doing it, too.

    1. Karen – the temp was in the mid 80s, which was reasonable. She was left under a tree, so some shade, had a loaded and cocked gun. 🙂 He was severely dehydrated.

      6 weeks ago we had a reverse situation where the grandchild left the grandfather while he went for help. Temp around 115. Grandpa was dead when they found him.

  7. Wait, what? He supposedly broke down, was unwilling or unable to carry the girl to civilization, and he went for drinks and a cheeseburger instead of getting help? And he left her with a loaded gun? Was he already drunk? Had he rotted the decision center of his brain? Did he have issues with the parents and was trying to murder the child while clumsily trying to give himself the worst alibi ever?

    This kind of mind-blowingly-bad decision making does not just suddenly appear. Usually, someone has a long list of red flags that they are either callous, complete idiots, negligent, or actually trying to kill a kid.

    I agree with Nick and DBQ. Unless the mother has similarly serious problems, I wonder if this … person … had permission to take that little girl anywhere.

    They should arrest him and charge him with whatever’s appropriate. It could save his life from the mother, because she’s got to want to go bury him in that desert. I’ll bet she has a shovel.


    That’s false logic. Knives are legal, and yet a parent leaving an unattended small child with a big knife to play with would be child endangerment. Prescription meds are legal, and yet giving a 5 year old with a bottle with the cap removed and leaving them on their own for hours would also merit a visit from CPS.

    By your logic, anyone who wants to maintain a Constitutionally protected right to own a firearm must mean that small children should be allowed to play with them. Similarly, unless one can guarantee that no criminal will ever use a firearm in a crime, or no one would ever be negligent with one, then all firearms must be outlawed. However, this same logic is not applied to knives, cars, hammers, or duct tape. (Does any kidnapping occur without duct tape?) The actions of negligent morons should not lead to punishment for the innocent.

  8. For anyone that does not know: no five year old human being alive or in history could properly shoot a .45 handgun. The recoil of a .45 would cause death or severe injury to the shooter, and/or depart the physical possession of the shooter. The only hand gun with greater explosive charge than a .45 is (IIRC) a .44 Magnum and a .50 caliber used to hunt bears of any size.

    Maybe, and I emphasize maybe, some strong five year old could properly shoot a .22 caliber handgun (a small one, maybe a derringer), but even then I’d bet against it. Even though the .22 is just under half the diameter, I estimate its explosive charge is 1/5th or less.

  9. Ninian……The Republic of Kanata, formerly known as Canada, has officially severed all ties to the British monarchy.
    My condolences; this must be a major blow, on top of your loss of the 13 colonies.

  10. IMO this does constitute felony endangerment and whatever the sentencing guidelines indicate should be the sentence

    Agree with Nick. Felony child endangerment. Plus…. I wonder if he had permission to remove the child from her home, from her mother. Perhaps some kidnapping can be thrown into the mix.

    1. DBQ writes, “IMO this does constitute felony endangerment and whatever the sentencing guidelines indicate should be the sentence.” . . . Agree with Nick. Felony child endangerment. Plus…. I wonder if he had permission to remove the child from her home, from her mother. Perhaps some kidnapping can be thrown into the mix.”

      Agree with Nick, too, but unless he’s got a prior record, no jail time (if he’s wet) unless some other charge is added.

      Also, I wanted to acknowledge a shoutout and Honorable Mention to bam-bam for the notion that we have no facts yet (other than the first appearance kindly provided by Paul in which the fellow roasts himself without counsel), just allegations.

      By the way, bam-bam, how’s Pebbles been? Someday, maybe Fred will win the fight.

  11. Presumably giving the child a loaded gun is not an offence of endangerment because under the second amendment she has a right to bear arms and to defend herself not really by “shooting bad guys” but in self defence

    Geez Ninian……. give it a rest. You are tiresome. You make ridiculous arguments and are a one sone band. You are background noise. shhhhhhhhwhhhhhhsssssss.

    This guy is an alcoholic and a danger to himself and a REAL danger to anyone else. How in the world could any thinking person first of all give a five year old child a gun and then LEAVE her in the hot desert.

    I think that LisaN has a firmer grip on this. There is something HINKY about Grandpa. I hope the young girl gets medical attention and that Grandpa is not allowed around any small children, especially little girls….if you get my drift.

  12. Do we KNOW that the grandfather is an alcoholic? I must’ve missed that part. Big leap. Rehab? For someone who has bad judgment? All criminals have bad judgment, whether they’re stoned, snookered or completely sober. Perhaps if Gramps is 53 and looks 73, then, maybe, the child, who is 5, appears to be 25. Maybe it’s genetic. Everyone in this family ages at an accelerated rate, and Gramps didn’t realize just how young she was at the time.

    That’s a free one for the defense.

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