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Customer at Lodi McDonald’s mouths ‘help me,’ and workers do

A woman who mouthed “help me” at the drive-thru window of a McDonald’s in Lodi was safe and her companion in custody after quick thinking by employees.

The report by the San Joaquin County sheriff’s office said the arrest happened shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday at the restaurant at the interchange of Interstate 5 and Highway 12.

The woman had first come into the restaurant on the pretext of using the restroom and had surreptitiously asked an employee to call 911 and to help her hide. When her companion came in, she told him she was going to order food — but he insisted that she come back to the car and order at the drive-thru.

Worried that deputies would not arrive in time, the employees delayed the orders of the two cars ahead of the woman.

At the drive-thru window, the woman — who was in the driver’s seat — again urged employees to get help, mouthing, “Help me.”

By that time, sheriff’s deputies had arrived inside the restaurant, and employees hurriedly pointed out the woman. Deputies asked her to pull over, and then took the shaken woman away from her companion.

Eduardo Valenzuela. (San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office) 

She told them she feared for her life. The man, whom she said had been violent with her before, had demanded she drive him to his family’s house and had threatened to shoot her, she said. A firearm found in the trunk of the vehicle had been reported stolen in another state.

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

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