McDonald’s employees in Lodi credited with saving woman from alleged abuser


LODI (CNN) — McDonald’s employees in Lodi knew exactly what to do when a woman told them she was in danger.

Investigators say she was there on Christmas Eve with a man who had reportedly threatened to kill her.

“She did come in pretty frantic,” said Regina Camera with Golden State Restaurant Group, representing McDonald’s. 

As soon as the Sacramento walked in to the Lodi McDonald’s on Christmas Eve, she asked for employees to hide her.

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

It turns out the restaurant is a designated ‘safe place’ with employees trained to handle all kinds of emergencies.  

In this case, they urged the woman to use the restroom.

“Quick thinking on her part. She provided a license plate to the employees at the McDonalds,” said Andrea Lopez with the San Joaquin County Sheriff.

Whens she came out, deputies with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office say she attempted to place an order at the counter, but the alleged abuser, Eduardo Valenzuela, walked in and demanded she go outside.

“And he said, ‘no you need order through the drive thru,’” Lopez said. 

When she pulled up to the window, Lopez says she mouthed the words “help me.”

That’s when the employees took action.

“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 arrived they were quickly rushed outside to the drive-thru, ordering Valenzuela out of the car and discovering a loaded stolen revolver tucked away inside.

The restaurant credits 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,” Camera said. 

Valenzuela was later put in jail.

He’s now facing charges of making criminal threats, possessing stolen property and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

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