By Brad Smith
United Reporting Crime Beat Reporter
YREKA — A 54-year-old Sacramento man, who reportedly had a bomb stuck inside his boot, is in custody after an Aug. 19 struggle with police officers and civilians.
After Mike Anthony Solano, of 8260 Florin Town Way, was taken into custody, officers discovered his “private arsenal,” Yreka police chief Brian Bowles said.
“He (Solano) was ready to declare war on Yreka,” Bowles said during a phone interview. He explained that Solano was arrested on July 18 after a search of his vehicle turned up one explosive device.
Brett Duncan, a local bail bondsman, said he had posted Solano’s bond.
“He was really nice and polite when I dealt with him,” Duncan said. Solano’s court appearance was set for Aug. 19. “However, he never showed up,” Duncan said. He had planned a trip to Sacramento, to locate Solano and bring him back.
Later that Tuesday afternoon, Duncan stated that he had seen a vehicle “driving erratically down the street.” Thinking that it might be Solano’s, he started following it. Duncan shadowed the vehicle, which led him to Annie Street. “The county probation office is located in that area. I figured that Solano was reporting to his probation officer,” he said.
Solano got out of his vehicle, Duncan said, and started “acting weird.” The bail bondsman called the Yreka Police Department, informing them that he would arrest Solano and that he needed backup.
That call, Chief Bowles stated, had been made around 4:35 p.m.
When the officers arrived and made contact with Solano, Bowles said the suspect drew a handgun. “That’s when the fight started.”
The two Yreka Police Department officers struggled to get the Beretta 9mm pistol from Solano’s hand but the suspect kept fighting back. That’s when Duncan entered the fray, Bowles reported.
“I managed to jam a finger behind the Beretta’s trigger,” Duncan said.
He said he felt the trigger squeeze his finger as Solano tried firing the pistol.
At some point, Bowles explained, another civilian, Darrell Bourne, jumped in to help Duncan and the officers. While Duncan disarmed Solano, the suspect kept fighting back.
“He kept screaming ‘Kill me now, kill me now,'” Bowles reported. He stated that Solano tried grabbing one of the officers’ pistols and tasers.
Duncan said he was “shocked” by Solano’s actions.
“This wasn’t the same guy I met a month before,” he reported. “He was like a crazed animal.”
Solano kept fighting even after being handcuffed and searched, Bowles said. During that search, he said, officers found a pipe bomb inside one of Solano’s boots. Determining that the bomb had not been boobytrapped, officers pulled the boot off of Solano.
Bowles stated that the bomb and boot had been placed under a bulletproof tactical vest. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol appeared on scene to help with the evacuation of surrounding houses.
However, upon searching Solano’s vehicle, Bowles said officers discovered “an unpleasant surprise.”
According to the Yolo police officilas, officers seized two assault weapons, three other weapons (one with a homemade silencer), surveillance equipment, more than sixteen pipe bombs, a tactical vest and clothing with face masks, more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition and morethan seventy fully-load magazines.
Upon finding the pipe bombs, Bowles said that the sheriff’s office notified its bomb disposal team. “And, we expanded the evacuation to include more homes in the Annie and State Streets’ area.”
Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp reported that Detective Ben Grossman, a bomb squad member, carefully transferred seventeen improvised explosive devices from Solano’s vehicle to the bomb squad’s trailer.
“From there, the bombs were stransported to the Siskiyou County Airport for disposal,” she said.
A Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office media release stated that county employees dug a four-foot deep hole in a remote section of the airport property. There, Grossman placed all of the bombs inside the hole, then added C-4 plastic explosives.
He then remote-detonated the C-4, destroying the devices.
“Detective Grossman said that the pipe bombs were very sophisticated,” Gravenkamp reported.
Bowles said that Solano allegedly used copper wire, pieces of razor-sharp metal and even BB pellets as shrapnel.
“He could have done a lot of damage with those bombs,” Bowles said.
Solano is being held at the county jail, charged with possession of of a destruction device, transportation of a destruction device, resisting a police office by force, attempting to take a police officer’s firearm and and assault with a firearm on a peace officer. Bowles stated that there is an ongoing investigation and further charges might be pending.
His bail is set at $2 million. Siskiyou County Superior Court records reported that he was arraigned on Aug. 21.
Bowles has thanked Duncan and Bourne for their assitance in subduing Solano, along with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, the CHP and other allied agencies.
Duncan, however, has praise for the Yolo officers.
“I was in law enforcement for seventeen years,” he said. “The way those young men conducted themselves was outstanding. They could’ve gunned down Solano but they chose to take him down without lethal force.
“They’re good cops.”