(Updated 2:51 p.m., Thursday, August 2, 2007.)

A San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputy was shot Wednesday night.

Witnesses report hearing up to eight gunshots shortly before 8 p.m. near the intersection of Main Street and 5th Avenue. The suspects were interrupted in an attempt to rob the nearby CigMart cigarette store, after the clerk tripped a silent alarm. Two deputies, who responded to the alarm, exchanged fire with the would-be armed robbers.

The injured deputy was struck at least three times, but was "conscious and alert," according to department spokeswoman Cindy Beavers, when he was flown by helicopter to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. A bullet passed through his shoulder and two more nicked his ear and a hand. He was expected to be released from the hospital sometime Thursday.

Traffic on Main Street was shut down for several blocks in each direction, forcing traffic onto Walnut and Yucca Streets, as deputies from the Hesperia and Victorville stations and officers of the California Highway Patrol cordoned off the crime scene, and hundreds of residents lined the streets.

The three armed robbery suspects were all arrested at or near the scene Wednesday night. The suspect who had sustained a gunshot wound was in surgery shortly after midnight.

One of the suspects, Joseph Asolelei Mulu, 23, of Long Beach, was wounded during the firefight. As of Thursday at noon, he was listed in critical but stable condition.

Two other suspects, Myles Saunoa Asuuga, 19, of Las Vegas, and Theodore Tinofa-ata Settle, 18, of Apple Valley, were arrested at the scene.

"I'm sure we've got all of the suspects in custody," Beavers said.

Depending on the charges filed against them, the suspects likely face multiple life sentences, if convicted. Injuring another person with the use of a firearm during the commission of a robbery carries a potential charge of 30 years to life in prison. The suspects also face a likely charge of attempted murder, bringing with it another life sentence if they are convicted.

The wounded deputy is the first to be shot in the city in decades, according to Hesperia station spokeswoman Roxanne Walker.

"Certainly, it wasn't the most pleasant experience in the world to find your deputy on a gurney ready to get loaded into a helicopter," Hesperia Captain Lance Clark said Thursday. "The bottom line is that everything that could have been done, was done, and that's because everyone has had the training and ... everybody performed magnificently, as far as I can tell at this point."

Asuuga and Settle were booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

The department had not officially released the injured deputy's name by midday Thursday.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.