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These McDonald's Workers Helped Save A Woman After She Mouthed "Help Me" In The Drive-Thru

Police also recovered a stolen firearm and said the suspect had threatened the woman's life.

Posted on December 28, 2019, at 12:35 p.m. ET

Andrea Lopez/San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office

A quick response from McDonald's employees in California saved a woman from a man who allegedly threatened her life.

On Dec. 24, a woman came into a McDonald's franchise in Lodi and asked employees to hide her. She told them to call 911 and gave them the license plate number of the car she was traveling in.

"After using the washroom, she tried to place an order at the counter," San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Andrea Lopez told BuzzFeed News.

But the man she'd been traveling with was close by and told her to get back in the car so they could use the drive-thru. The woman complied but tried again to get help.

"While she was in the drive-thru, she mouthed to employees to help her — 'help me,'" said Lopez.

The police later arrived, thanks to a call from the employees, who then rushed the officers outside to the drive-thru lane. Police arrested Eduardo Valenzuela and recovered a stolen firearm from the trunk.

According to police, Valenzuela had a history of violence toward the woman and had threatened her life with the firearm.

Valenzuela has been charged with threats, stolen property, and possession of a firearm by a felon.

San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office

The employees' quick reaction was thanks in part to specialized training that designates the location a "safe place." The McDonald's franchise is part of the Golden State Restaurant Group, which instructs employees on how to respond to patrons in crisis.

"Their employees receive training on recognizing signs of people who may need help, such as abuse victims or human trafficking victims," said Lopez.

The restaurant group praised the employees 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!" the group said.

Valenzuela's bail is set at $360,000, and he remained in custody as of Friday evening.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.