On Christmas Eve, a California woman whom authorities believe was at risk of abuse received help from an unexpected source.
A woman visited a McDonald franchise in Lodi on Dec. 24 and told workers to cover her.
She told them to call 911 and showed them the car she was riding in with the license plate number.
The woman used the bathroom and tried to give an order at the counter as she might require food before she was stopped by the man who allegedly threatened her, Eduardo Valenzuela, 35, who was nearby.
So instead she asked that she use the drive-thru button as told by Office spokeswoman for San Joaquin County Sheriff, Andrea Lopez.
But the man with whom she had driven was close by and ordered her to get back in the car so that they could use the drive-thru.
The woman reacted yet tried to get help again. The woman mouthed “help me” at an employee in the drive-thru. Deputies arrived shortly afterward and pulled her over. At the time, Valenzuela was at the passenger seat.
The police arrived later, thanks to a call from the workers, who then hurried the officers to the drive-thru lane outside. Eduardo Valenzuela was arrested by police and a stolen weapon was seized from the car.
Valenzuela had a history of violence against the woman and threatened her life with the weapon, according to police.
Valenzuela was charged with assaults, theft, and ownership by a fugitive of a firearm.
The swift response of the workers was due in part to specialized training specifying the location as a “secure place.”
McDonald’s branch is part of the Golden State Restaurant Group, which instructs its employees to quickly respond to employers in an emergency.
Lopez said that”Their staff are trained to identify signs of people who may need assistance, such as victims of abuse or victims of human trafficking,”
In a Facebook post, the restaurant group thanked the staff. It was written as “Thank you to our staff for managing this correctly and to the Deputies of the Office of the San Joaquin County Sheriff who are actively serving and protecting our community!”
Valenzuela’s bail was set at $360,000, and he stayed in custody as of Friday night.
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