Five police officers were shot and two suspects killed in an early-morning gunbattle Thursday in Jersey City, N.J., according to Police Chief Thomas J. Comey.
The shootout happened about 5 a.m. after officers approached two people, a man and a woman, heading for a car connected to an armed robbery, Comey said.
Police were conducting a criminal investigation involving the pair and had been watching a vehicle used in the robbery last month in which a man was shot in the stomach.
The robbery suspects were preparing to move the parked car when the shootout began.
The primary suspect was carrying "some kind of automatic shotgun," said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy.
The man pulled out the pump-action shotgun and fired at the marked police car, blowing out the windshield, and a bullet grazed the leg of one of the officers.
"This individual came fully ready to go to war with us," said Comey. "This is not a normal shotgun. ... This is a gun meant for nothing other than to hunt a man."
He says the two suspects then ran into an apartment, where they barricaded themselves and began exchanging gunfire with the officers. Shotgun blasts shattered the door and wall.
Jersey City and Port Authority SWAT units swarmed the scene and followed the pair inside.
"People inside started firing through the door and wall," Healy said.
Two of the officers were in critical condition and had undergone surgery but were expected to survive. The most seriously wounded, a 38-year-old policeman, was shot in the face and was in full cardiac arrest with no signs of life when he arrived for treatment, Healy said.
Doctors had to bring him back to life "five or six times" before they could stabilize him, he said.
Another was struck in the neck and was in critical but stable condition.
"It was a terrible gunfight," said the mayor.
A fourth officer was hit in the chest but his bulletproof vest absorbed the gunfire, and a Port Authority officer called in to assist was shot in the arm.
Authorities said three other officers were treated at the hospital for minor injuries that were not caused by gunfire, but by flying glass and other factors.
The wounded officers were taken to Jersey City Medical Center.
The suspects' and officers' names have not been released.
The area of the shooting is known for heavy drug activity, FOX 5 reported.
The suspects were being sought in connection with an armed robbery last month in which they allegedly shot a man in the abdomen with the same shotgun. Authorities said that the woman did not have a firearm, but that her partner wielded his weapon with deadly intent.
Police identified the vehicle used in the earlier robbery from surveillance video. Two officers been told that the suspects moved it each morning to avoid getting a ticket and staked it out.
Residents of the apartment complex where the shooting occurred said they awoke to the sounds of gunfire and police running down their hallways.
Marlon Harrison said he was awakened by the sounds of gunshots echoing off the alley wall outside his second-floor apartment window.
"It was like the Army out there," Harrison said.
Richard Pratt, who lives on the building's third floor, said he heard gunshots and looked out his peephole into the hall when police officers then pushed their way through his apartment. They yelled at him to get down, said they were looking for suspects, and then left.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.