A victim is safe thanks to the McDonald
A victim is safe thanks to the McDonald's crew at the Flag City location in Lodi. On 12/24/19, shortly after 2 P.M. a woman went into the McDonald's restaurant and told an employee at the counter to call 9-1-1. She also gave the employee the license plate of the vehicle that she was traveling in and asked them to hide her. After the woman used the restroom she attempted to place an order at the counter, but the suspect, Eduardo Valenzuela was nearby and demanded she use the drive- thru. While in the drive thru, she mouthed to an employee, "HELP ME." Just then, deputies arrived and spoke with employees inside the restaurant, they rushed them out the door telling them that the woman needing help was in the drive-thru line. The woman was driving her vehicle, with Mr. Valenzuela in the passenger seat when deputies ordered her to pull over. During the investigation, deputies comforted the shaken woman and discovered that Valenzuela had been violent with her in the past. On this day he told her to take him to visit his family and threatened her life, stating he would use a firearm. A firearm was located in the trunk of the vehicle (stolen out of state). Eduardo Valenzuela was booked in the San Joaquin County Jail for criminal threats, stolen property, and felon(prohibited person) in possession of a firearm.
PHOTO: San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office/Facebook
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(CNN) —  

When a woman walked up to the counter of a McDonald’s in Lodi, California, the employees likely expected her to order a Big Mac or large fries. Instead, she begged them to help her.

The woman told an employee to call 911, gave them her license plate number and asked them to hide her, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

A police investigation would later reveal that she was traveling with a man who had a history of abusing her. That day, he had threatened her with a firearm and demanded that she drive him to see his family.

After using the McDonald’s restroom, the woman tried to approach the counter again to make an order, police said. But the man she was traveling with stopped her and demanded that she use the drive-thru.

Even in the drive-thru, the woman continued to send distressed messages to employees, mouthing “help me” through the window to a restaurant worker, police said.

As she was in the drive-thru, police arrived and employees quickly pointed them to the woman in her car with the man in the passenger seat.

Police found a stolen firearm in the trunk of the vehicle and arrested the man.

He faces four felony charges, including criminal threats, stolen property and possession of a firearm as prohibited person. His bail is set at $360,000.

She picked the right McDonald’s

The woman chose the right place to ask for help.

The Golden State Restaurant Group, which owns the McDonald’s location she went to, has certified each of its restaurants as a “Safe Place.”

The Safe Place program is a national youth and prevention program for “young people in need of immediate help and safety,” says the restaurant group’s website.

The program creates a network of locations, including schools, fire stations, libraries and businesses, that display distinctive yellow and black safe place signs. Young people can go to locations with these signs in times of crisis to find a secure place to stay and be connected with a youth service agency or shelter, the program website says.

There are more than 20,000 Safe Place sites across the US.

People in need of a Safe Place location can check their interactive map or text the word “safe” along with their location (city, state, or zip code) to 4HELP (44357). They will receive a reply with the closest Safe Place and the number of their local youth agency.

“We are proud of our team for doing their part in being A SAFE PLACE!” Golden State McDonald’s said in a Facebook post.

“Thank you to our team for handling this appropriately, and to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office Deputies who are constantly serving and protecting our community! We are proud to be in support with both A Safe Place and all of our law enforcement! Thank you for all of the community support and please always be safe and aware!”