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Deputies say Lodi McDonald’s employees helped save woman from abuse

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LODI, Calif. (KTXL) -- The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office is crediting the staff at a McDonald's restaurant with helping a woman they say was a victim of domestic abuse.

“She told the employees at the counter that she needed help,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrea Lopez. “She needed them to call 911 to hide her and then she used the restroom here at this location.”

Deputy Lopez said the victim and the suspect were traveling to Atwater to visit his parents Tuesday.

“She came out and she went to the counter to place an order and the suspect was inside the restaurant with her and he said, ‘No, you can place the order through the drive-thru,’” Lopez told FOX40.

In the drive-thru at the West Banner Street McDonald’s the woman made a silent plea for help.

“She mouthed ‘help me’ to the employees,” Lopez explained.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Regina Camera said workers jumped into action and immediately called 911.

“We are a safe place, so we are trained on how to handle crisis situations like that,” Camera said. “Our restaurant manager had our employees actually hold up the drive-thru line so that we were then able to stop that car from moving forward.”

Deputy Lopez said deputies rushed to the scene and spotted the car still in the drive-thru. They ordered the victim and the man out of the car.

“When deputies made contact with the suspect they also located a firearm in the trunk of the vehicle. The firearm was loaded and it was a revolver,” Lopez said.

Deputies arrested 35-year-old Eduardo Valenzuela, a convicted felon, and learned the gun was stolen out of state.

According to the sheriff's office, the woman told deputies that Valenzuela had been violent with her in the past and on Tuesday had threatened to shoot her.

Valenzuela was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail on suspicion of making criminal threats, possession of stolen property and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

“It was key that McDonald’s contacted us so quickly,” Lopez told FOX40.

Camera said she was proud of how the workers handled a stressful situation.

“I think it was one of those fight or flight kind of things. They just took over and they didn’t hesitate,” she said.

Camera told FOX40 they will be recognizing the employees involved internally.

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