Officer Jake Solo has only been on the Oceanside Police force for about eight months.
"I'm a rookie," Solo said laughing.
On Tuesday night he acted anything but "rookie" as he helped stop a hate crime in progress involving a man armed with a hatchet.
It all began around 7 p.m. Tuesday at the CVS store in the 2400 block of East Valley Parkway.
Escondido police say an elderly gentleman asked a group of people to move away so he could back his car out of a handicap spot.
"The group of individuals became very agitated and they were yelling a lot of racial slurs," said Escondido Police Lt. Craig Carter.
He also says a man pulled out a hatchet from his waistband and came after the victim, threatening to kill him.
The victim ran into CVS where Officer Solo was shopping with his wife.
“He immediately had a panicked look on his face, and was yelling call the police,” said Solo in an exclusive interview with NBCSanDiego. “It looked like he was in fear for his life."
Officer Solo was not in uniform so when he went outside, he immediately showed his badge and identified himself as a police
officer. Solo’s wife called 911.
"There were two individuals waiting there, I detained both of them, I said ‘Who had the hatchet?’ "They pointed to the two a little further away,” said Solo.
Officer Solo says the suspect and a teenage girl ran toward Citrus Avenue.
Seconds later the officer caught up with them. He couldn't see the hatchet investigators say the suspect had hidden in his waistband.
Officer Solo had his service weapon with him. “If he would have reached for the weapon I would have drawn on him,” Solo said.
Instead, Officer Solo says the suspect took off down Citrus Avenue, so the officer detained the female and waited for back up.
Investigators say two other passersby saw the suspect throw the hatchet in a bush and run into an apartment complex.
The suspect, identified as Richard Mazon, 18, was found a short time later hiding under his bed in an apartment.
Escondido Police credit the passersby with helping stop the attack and also catching the suspect.
"They did everything by the book, it could have been a tragic ending," said Lt. Carter.
Officer Solo says he was just doing his job.
"I feel good when I’m in uniform when I help out, on or off-duty,” he said.
Mazon faces several charges including attempted assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime enhancement.