On Christmas Eve, a woman went to a Lodi, CA McDonald’s seeking help in escaping what police believe was an abusive situation.
She asked the employees to hide her and call the police because she was in danger, according to a Facebook post from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. She also provided the employees with the license plate of the vehicle she was driving.
The unnamed woman tried ordering food at the counter but the man who threatening her, Eduardo Valenzuela, 35, was nearby, stopped her and demanded she order using the drive-thru instead.
When she went through the drive-thru, she mouthed to the attendant, “help me.” The employees called the police who eventually pulled over the vehicle and arrested Valenzuela.
According to the San Joaquin’s Sheriff’s Office:
“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.”
The McDonald’s location was a designated “safe place for abuse and human trafficking victims,” according to the Facebook post. The National Safe Place Network designates sites where youth can go “in crisis situations.” These locations, including the McDonald’s, receive orientation and training on how to assist youth in need of help. Sites include fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, libraries, community centers and other locations. Several other businesses, including Starbucks, Walmart, Goodwill and Wendy’s, have also offered Safe Place support.NBC: