The man stood over the downed deputy, raised the nightstick, and prepared to strike.
Loren Voyles acted fast.
The 54-year-old car salesman was leaving for work Saturday morning when he witnessed the scene. He said he rushed over and jumped the assailant, grabbing him by the throat just as Deputy Wayne Gray fought off the vicious blow intended for his skull.
Voyles helped Gray restrain the subject while they waited for backup to arrive.
Then Voyles quietly brushed off his khakis and headed into Carson Valley Toyota, where he sells vehicles.
"He wasn't even late," said Voyles' boss, Craig Crebling.
"It wasn't a big deal," said Voyles. "I was just helping out."
The decorated U.S. Air Force pararescue veteran served three tours of duty in Vietnam, but says he doesn't want to be called a hero.
"The cops are the real heroes here," said Voyles. "They're on the front lines every day protecting us from guys like this."
What started around 8:15 a.m. Saturday as a report of a man standing outside yelling about earthquakes and aliens quickly turned violent and potentially deadly for Sheriff's Deputy Wayne Gray.
Responding to the 1100 block of South Nevada Street, Deputy Gray met with 34-year-old Jeffrey Solczyk in a field at the south end of a nearby apartment complex.
The man was standing alone, looking up at the sky, and talking to himself, according to police reports.
"I asked him what he was doing," said Gray.
Suddenly, the man cursed at him and attacked, Gray said. Warning the man to back away, Deputy Gray said he unholstered his baton.
Solczyk appeared to cooperate, even taking a seat on the ground, Gray reported.
When Gray asked Solczyk for identification, he said the man jumped up and came after Gray with a frenzy of rapid punches.
Gray struck Solczyk on the left forearm trying to restrain him. As he backed up, he said he tripped on a ditch and hit the ground. Solczyk seized the momentary advantage and allegedly wrestled the officer's baton away from him.
That's when Voyles stepped in.
"It was intense," said Gray, showing off minor injuries on his elbows and legs sustained in the brawl. "It was a street fight. If Voyles hadn't arrived and it had gone on much longer, there was a good chance it was going to end up tragically ... for one of us."
Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said once Solczyk attacked Deputy Gray, the officer would have been well within his rights to use "deadly force" and shoot the man.
"It shows very readily how circumstances can change in a split second," said Sheriff Furlong. "Thankfully, (Voyles) was there and took action during those precious few moments while Gray was waiting for backup."
He also praised Deputy Gray for his restraint.
"Solczyk had three or four deputies on him and was still fighting," said Furlong.
The suspect is being held in a maximum-security cell at the Carson City Jail on suspicion of felony battery with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and suspicion of misdemeanor obstructing and interfering.
Bail was set at $25,632.
"The first thing we'll do is get him to the psychiatrist and attempt to get him stabilized or on some medication," said Furlong.
"I'm just happy things ended the way they did and Voyles happened to be there at the right time. Situations like these can get really ugly, really fast."
Though modest about the details, Voyles' co-workers say he has a history of being in the right place at the right time. This fact seems to be confirmed by a collection of news clippings, a picture of himself with the former President Bush and a cool, knowing smile.
As for all the attention, Voyles insists it's not the driving force behind his good deeds.
"Honestly," he jokes. "I'd rather have a date."
n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at email@example.com or 881-1215.