- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A rookie police officer says he was “just doing his job” when he saved a 12-year-old California girl Monday after she was allegedly abducted by her stepbrother.

Arizona Department of Public Safety officials say officer Jesse Livingston had only been on the job for five days when he spotted the suspect’s gold Subaru while on his way home from work around 2 p.m.

Livingston and his supervisor had spent the day looking for Cassidy Hayes and suspect Michael Malloch Jr., who were the subjects of an Amber Alert after they were seen at a gas station in a town outside Flagstaff on Monday morning.

DPS Director Frank Milstead said Malloch had described himself as suicidal. He called the situation a “recipe for disaster” that would have ended tragically if not for the new officer.

Livingston said he was just about to call his wife when he spotted the vehicle driving north on U.S. 89. He said he immediately turned around, caught up with the vehicle and confirmed the license plate number over his squad car’s radio.

“It was a big adrenaline rush,” he said.

With the help of a supervisor, Livingston pulled over the Subaru and arrested Malloch on suspicion of kidnapping just 3 miles shy of Arizona’s border with Utah.

Livingston said Cassidy was shaken up but appeared relieved that the situation was over. Authorities say the 22-year-old Malloch is being held for questioning while Cassidy is in a safe house waiting to reunite with her family in Cathedral City, California.

During a news conference Tuesday, Livingston said his training helped him prepare for the situation.

“I was just in the right spot at the right time. It’s good to be able to help somebody out. That’s why I’m in this profession, to help people,” he said.

Milstead commended the new officer on his efforts and said he could not be more proud of the work he did.

“This is more than just about Cassidy - it’s about the people that don the badge and the uniform and make a difference day in and day out,” Milstead said.

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