Mother in danger reaches out to gas station clerk for help

by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:

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TACOMA, Wash. - Call 911.

Those are the first words Bruce Dean saw on the note handed to him by one of his customers at the Tacoma AM/PM convenience store on Pacific Avenue Saturday afternoon.

Then the woman told him her boyfriend had hurt her before and she was afraid he would hurt her again.  But she couldn't run because her baby was in the car. He had also threatened to hurt the child.

Dean looked out to the car and saw a familiar face. He didn't know the name, but he knew the man.  He says it was Mark Francis Valucus. Valucus is especially distinctive because he is small; 4 feet, 3 inches.  But, according to court records, he is also violent.  He has a criminal history that includes sexual assault, kidnapping, and weapons and drugs charges.

And according to his girlfriend, in recent days he had attacked her with a baseball bat, stabbed her with a knife, burned her with a cigarette, and threatened to kill her.

She was on edge when he reportedly suggested they go for a ride. That's when they rolled up to Dean's gas station.

Dean says the woman asked for a pen and paper, then handed him the note. Court documents say it read," Can you call 911," then gave her license plate number. The next line said "DV" for domestic violence, and the most troublesome line was the last:  "Baby in car."

As the woman headed back to the car, Dean was able to call 911 and give the plate number. Deputies caught up with them shortly afterwards. Court documents say they found a baseball bat and a knife in the car.

Now Valucus is in the Pierce County Jail on $500,000 bail. 

The baby was unharmed.

When KIRO 7 found Dean on Tuesday, he had no idea what had happened after his call. We showed him the suspect's criminal history and the alleged attacks against his girlfriend. He shook his head at the violence.  But at least he knew his phone call had brought it to an end, "Well, that's good."