A 5-year-old named Charlie called 911 recently in search of McDonald’s and asked for a Happy Meal. One kindhearted Mesa police officer embraced the “teaching moment” to clarify when it’s appropriate to use the emergency number and surprised him with the requested Happy Meal.
On Sunday, Oct. 27, dispatcher Anthony Bonilla received an emergency call, Charlie wanted to know if he was speaking with McDonalds.
“Do you have an emergency?” dispatcher Anthony Bonilla asked in audio footage released by the department, Today reported.
“One Mc-Happy Meal,” Charlie responded, before hanging up the call.
In a follow-up call to the household, Bonilla told Charlie’s father, Randy Skabelund, who said there was no emergency.
“It kinda made my day,” Bonilla told Charlie’s father. “He was asking me if I was McDonald’s and if he could get a Happy Meal.”
Bonilla told him that an officer would head to their home for a welfare check and that “maybe he’ll stop by McDonald’s.”
Skabelund insisted they didn’t need to send anyone and apologized.
Fifteen minutes later, officer Randolph “Scott” Valdez arrived at the Skabelund’s driveway to speak with Charlie with a Happy Meal in hand.
“He said, ‘I brought you a Happy Meal but before I give it to you we need to talk about the right time to call 911,’” Charlie’s mom, Kim Skabelund, said. “Officer Valdez was wonderful. He handled the situation with such love and kindness and really touched our hearts.”
Kim said she realized Charlie had ordered food for his sister, Jadyn, 6 when she saw what was in the box.
“He’s always looking out for Jadyn,” she said.
The City of Mesa Police Department later shared the story on Facebook with a sweet image of happy Charlie and Officer Valdez captured by Charlie’s mom. It quickly went viral.
“We are very proud of how Officer Valdez and Dispatcher Anthony Bonilla responded. They showed compassion and concern for a young Mesa community member and turned this encounter into a teaching moment,” Chief Ramon Batista said in a statement to The Arizona Republic. “Officer Valdez took time with this young boy, to share the importance of 911 and its proper use for emergencies only. It’s another example of the character and strength of our Mesa Police Department. It’s our hope that this positive encounter with the Mesa Police Department will make a lasting impression with Charlie and the rest of our Mesa community.”
Detective Nik Rasheta, a department spokesman, said that children “do call from time to time” but placing a Happy Meal order is not a common occurrence.
Charlie has indeed learned his lesson and said the next time he will just ask mom if wants a Happy Meal.