PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A 62-year-old man left his 5-year-old granddaughter alone in the desert.
"We said don't move, stay where you're at, and she called back and said ok, and she stepped out from a bush from a mile away and had on a bright orange shirt," said Michael Todd.
Todd, a former fire volunteer, described the moment rescuers located a 5-year-old girl abandoned by her grandfather in the middle of the Arizona desert. Even more shocking, the girl was carrying a loaded .45 caliber pistol given to her by her grandfather, Paul Rater.
62-year-old Paul Rater appeared in court before a judge Tuesday. He said he left his home to go 4-wheeling with his granddaughter when they wound up getting stuck. That's when he left his granddaughter with the gun before going to a restaurant. He tried explaining to a judge what happened.
"My truck got stuck, I just got this truck, I've never been 4-wheeling with it, I've gone this route with another truck," said Paul Rater.
While explaining to the judge what happened, Rater became agitated and upset.
"I walk with my granddaughter, she was crying, pissing and moaning, she was tired and wanted to take a nap," said Rater.
That's when he says he left his granddaughter and took off for help.
"I had to try to get to a (expletive) phone, because I forgot my phone, so for miles there's nobody anywhere. I put her under a shade tree and put my gun down because I didn't want to carry it," said Rater.
According to court paperwork, Rater walked miles to a bar and restaurant where he ordered a cheeseburger, a few sodas, and a few Smirnoff Ice. But he never told anyone that his 5-year-old granddaughter was still out in the desert, all by herself.