McDonald's workers save woman who mouthed 'help me' at drive-thru

LODI, CA -- McDonald's employees at a California franchise sprang into action when a woman told them she was in danger on Christmas Eve.

San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office deputies said the woman was there with a man who had threatened to kill her. Employees said she walked into the restaurant and asked them to hide her.

"I think it was just one of those kind of flight or fight type of things," Golden State Restaurant Group representative Regina Camera said. "They just took over and didn't hesitate."

All McDonald's restaurants in San Joaquin County were designated safe spaces where victims of abuse can get immediate help, according to The Record.

Andrea Lopez, a spokesperson for the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, said the woman gave the employees a license plate number, and the employees told her to go into the restroom. When she came out, according to deputies, she tried to order at the counter, but a man later identified as Eduardo Valenzuela walked in and demanded she go outside and order at the drive-thru.

When the woman pulled up to the window, Lopez said the employees saw her mouth the words "help me."

"Our manager actually had our employees hold up the drive-thru line so that we were able to stop that car from moving forward," Camera said.

When deputies showed up, they ordered Valenzuela out of the car and found a loaded stolen gun inside the vehicle.

Camera said she is proud of the employees for taking their emergency training seriously.

"It was such an exciting and proud moment for us to know that what we're doing is working and that our employees are comfortable handling things like that," she said.

Valenzuela was arrested and charged with making criminal threats, possessing stolen property, and being a convicted felon with a firearm.
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