Thanks to quick-thinking McDonald's workers that ABC News calls "servers turned saviors," a woman who stopped in at one of the chain's California restaurants may have been saved from a dangerous situation. Per KABC and a Facebook post by the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, employees at the Lodi location say the woman came in about 2pm on Christmas Eve, saying the man she was with was making her take him to visit family and threatening to kill her. She asked workers to call 911 and to hide her; she also gave a car's license plate number. Employees directed her to the restroom, but she soon came out and proceeded to try to place an order at the counter. That's when, deputies say, a man approached and told her to place the order at the drive-thru instead. When the woman pulled up to the window, employees say she mouthed, "Help me."
"Our manager actually had our employees hold up the drive-thru line so that we were able to stop that car from moving forward," a rep from the McDonald's franchise owner tells KABC. Deputies soon arrived and nabbed Eduardo Valenzuela in the passenger seat of the woman's car; they say they found a stolen firearm in the trunk. The woman was lucky to show up in Lodi: The Record notes that McDonald's location is part of the community's "Safe Place" initiative, meaning restaurant higher-ups are trained to help customers who come in asking for help, especially victims of domestic violence or human trafficking. Valenzuela was charged with making criminal threats and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Per the Washington Post, he's being held on $1 million bond, with charges of "prior serious felonies" other than what he's accused of at the McDonald's. (Read more McDonald's stories.)