Images from security cameras where two police officers were shot and wounded, one critically, were too grainy to provide a detailed description of the suspects, authorities said.

One video captured the shooting early Monday, and another showed three men believed to be the occupants of a sport utility vehicle the officers had stopped because its license plates belonged to another car. A search for them was under way.

In the footage, the men duck into a driveway next to a building after ditching the stolen SUV a few blocks from the shooting.

Three guns were found behind the building.

Officer Russel Timoshenko, 23, was shot in the face and neck, and was in "extremely critical condition," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a news conference. Officer Herman Yan, 26, was in stable condition.

Yan had wounds to the chest and forearm, and was saved by his bullet-resistant vest, police said.

The officers were shot around 2:30 a.m. in the Crown Heights neighborhood when they pulled over the black BMW SUV outside a day care center.

As the uniformed officers approached from either side of the SUV, investigators believe two men opened fire without warning, hitting Timoshenko first, Kelly said.

"Seeing his partner fall to the ground and hearing shots, Officer Yan returned fire, but he too was hit with gunfire," the commissioner said.

Investigators later determined the SUV and the plates from a second vehicle had been stolen from a car dealership on Long Island. Inside it were two .45-caliber shell casings, police said.

Police said Timoshenko, of Staten Island, joined the department in January 2006. Yan, of Brooklyn, joined three years ago.