No charges will be filed against the deputies involved in a gunfight with a suspect that left one deputy wounded last year.

San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Gary W. Bailey announced the decision Thursday morning in a press release.

On August 1, 2007, at approximately 7:45 p.m., San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Deputies Franklin Hardin and Paul Solorio responded to a silent alarm from the Cigmart cigarette store at 16143 Main Street.

While other deputies set up a perimeter to keep residents away from the apparent robbery in progress, Hardin and Solorio approached the store. One of the three suspects inside, Joseph Asolelei Mulu of Long Beach, allegedly opened fire on the deputies, wounding Solorio twice -- once through his right shoulder, and a second through his right earlobe -- leading to an exchange of fire with the deputies.

A team of deputies, including Hardin, entered the store after the other two suspects surrendered. There they found Mulu on the floor, possibly reaching for the gun near him. He was incapacitated with tasers and taken into custody, and it was discovered that he had three gunshot wounds in his abdomen.

New details emerge

The release of Bailey's report -- officer-involved shootings are always scrutinized by the office of the district attorney -- is the first time many of the reported details of the Cigmart shooting have been made public.

"As Deputies Solorio and Hardin approached the front door of the business," the report reads in part, "They encountered a person later identified as suspect [Theodore Tinofa-Atasi Settle of Apple Valley], holding a large, medieval-style knife. Deputy Hardin ordered suspect Settle to put the knife down. When suspect Settle did not comply with Deputy Hardin's order to drop the knife, both deputies drew their weapons and again gave the order to drop the knife. Suspect Settle then set the knife down, exited the store and was taken into custody."

Once inside, the report says, they "made contact with a male subject standing at the counter area of the business. ... Deputy Hardin ordered the subject three or four times to show his hands," which were hidden behind a rack of potato chip bags.

"Deputy Hardin instructed Deputy Solorio to taser the subject due to his non-compliance. Deputy Solorio then holstered his duty weapon and began to reach for his taser. Deputy Solorio stated that as he was reaching for his taser, shots began to ring out."

Before Solorio was even sure where the shots were coming from, the report says, he was hit.

"He remembers not knowing that he was hit, but remembers extreme pain to his back. Deputy Solorio said it felt like someone had hit him with a sledge-hammer in the back."

Solorio then dove for cover, according to the report.

"As he was taking cover from the hail of bullets, he realized that he had been shot. Deputy Solorio noticed that blood was dripping from his face and onto his hands. As this was going on, he remembers several shots continually being fired."

Solorio later told investigators from the sheriff's homicide division that he wondered if he would ever see his wife and children again. Pinned down and unable to get out of the Cigmart, he then unholstered his pistol and returned fire.

"After returning fire, Deputy Solorio stated he saw the subject fall to the ground."

Solorio got out of the building, and a fellow deputy escorted him to the nearby Fastrip gas station to wait on medical care. He was later flown to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

District attorney's conclusion

"It is clear to this reviewer that both Deputy Hardin and Deputy Solorio were justified in their actions in firing their duty weapons," Bailey wrote in the conclusion of the 10-page report. "The deputies encountered three armed suspects while interrupting a robbery in progress.

"It is the humble opinion of this reviewer that Deputy Franklin Hardin and Deputy Paul Solorio be commended for their courage and performance of duty."

Mulu and fellow suspects Myles Saunoa Asuega of Las Vegas and Settle have been charged with two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, robbery and participation in a criminal street gang. Mulu's charges also include the additional allegations of personal use and discharge of a firearm.

Mulu, now 24, had previously served 16 months in state prison after being convicted of possession of a deadly weapon in 2005. Settle and Asuega, both now 19, had no prior criminal histories.

Solorio was the first deputy shot in Hesperia since the city incorporated in 1988.

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