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‘She Got Us In the Freezer Mama’: Teen Held Hostage During McDonald’s Robbery, Calls 911 and Gets Her Mom as Dispatcher

A teen fast-food employee says she was assaulted and locked in the restaurant’s freezer with her co-workers while working on her shift.  When she called to report the crime, the dispatcher on the other end, who helped save her life, was the Louisiana native’s mother.

Tenia Hill, a 16-year-old employee at a New Orleans McDonald’s on South Claiborne Avenue, recalled the day her job was held up by a woman with a gun.

On Monday, Oct. 17, the woman wrangled all of the girl’s fellow workers and put them all in the back freezer while she robbed the place, WSAZ reports.

The swift-thinking teenager remembered she had her phone and from the freezer called 911. To her surprise, the emergency operator on the other end of the call was her mother, Teri Clark, who had been working as an assistant operations manager at the Orleans Parish Communications District for over two decades.

Clark says she was supposed to have already left work but decided to stay later to help her colleagues with other calls. It was serendipitous that she was still there and received her daughter’s call.

The mother told WDSU, “I was in a state of shock.” Especially when she heard her child say, “Mama, please hurry up. She got a gun.”

Clark was disturbed but could not show that. She had to maintain a calm head and get the information she needed from her frightened child to accurately relay it to the police.

“We are going to hurry, give me a description,” she said to her daughter.

“Where it broke me down was when my child said, ‘We are in the freezer.’ I said, ‘In the freezer?’” Clark said. “While I was taking the call, tears came down my face. I am still trying to do my job, and I did the job to the best of my ability.”

After she alerted the police, she made her way to her daughter’s job. She wanted to make sure for herself that her child was safe.

The daughter said she was happy everything ended the way it did for many reasons.

First and foremost, she was worried it would traumatize her mother. She said, “I was very worried because I didn’t want my mom to have to bury her youngest child.”

The second is that it reaffirmed the safety all children believe their parents can provide.

“I could have lost my life, but she saved my life,” Hill said. “I was happy.”

She also said, “I was really scared because I would never imagined at my first job I would be getting robbed let alone having a gun pointed at me.”

Clark also was happy that everything turned out well.

Despite working as an assistant operations manager for 24 years, Clark said received a call from one of her family members. For the first one to have been her daughter, was a test of her professionalism.

Clark’s supervisor also applauded the woman for how she handled it.

“If I could clone Teri I would,” OPCD executive director Tyrell Morris said. “I would remind everyone we have people under the headset that have feelings and emotions. We are committed to your safety 365 days a year even when it’s our own child. Our staff vacancy rate has dropped by 25 percent and for the first time in over a year we are seeing an increase in the improvements of call answer times to meet national standard times over the prior year.”

“Teri Clark is a shining example of what our 911 heroes in New Orleans and across the nation do every day,” Morris said in a statement to CNN.

Clark says the incident has made that mother-daughter bond even more strong. Till says in her mind, her mom is even more of a superhero than ever before.

“She is the GOAT. Greatest of all time, that is the greatest dispatcher I know,” said Hill.

Till is also pretty special. After such a traumatic day, she went back to work the next day.

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