(CBS News)–When a woman walked up to a McDonald’s counter in Lodi, California, this week, she didn’t order a Big Mac. Instead, she indicated she needed help.
According to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, the woman told an employee at the counter to call 911, providing the license plate of the vehicle she had arrived in. She also asked them to hide her.
Police said the distressed woman used the bathroom and attempted to place an order at the counter, but the nearby suspect, Eduardo Valenzuela, demanded she order using the drive-thru instead. While driving through, she mouthed, “Help me,” to an employee.
Deputies arrived just after her request for help, and the McDonald’s employees immediately directed them to the drive-thru. They ordered the woman to pull over. Valenzuela was sitting in the passenger seat.
A police investigation revealed that Valenzuela had a history of being violent with the woman. On that particular day, he threatened her with a firearm and told her to take him to visit his family, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office,
Police found a stolen firearm from another state in the trunk of the vehicle. Valenzuela was booked in the San Joaquin County Jail for criminal threats, stolen property, and felon in possession of a firearm.
Police thanked the employees for providing a “safe place” for abuse and human trafficking victims. The McDonald’s location is owned by the Golden State Restaurant Group, which certifies each of its establishments as a “safe place.”
“Safe Place is a national youth outreach and prevention program for young people in need of immediate help and safety,” the restaurant group said on its website. More than 20,000 community and business locations across the U.S. participate in the program.
“We are proud of our team for doing their part in being A SAFE PLACE!” Golden State McDonald’s wrote on Facebook. “We are proud to be in support with both A Safe Place and all of our law enforcement!”