A man facing arrest for beating his girlfriend opened fire on two New Jersey detectives as they brought the victim home, wounding the officers before they shot him dead on the street, authorities said.
The gunman, who has not been identified, pulled out a revolver and began shooting as he was leaving the house in Trenton and the detectives arrived, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini said.
"That's him, arrest him," the man's girlfriend, who accompanied the detectives, said just before the shooting erupted, according to the prosecutor.
James Letts, a 15-year veteran officer who was shot in the shoulder, was out of surgery by late Thursday morning, City Police Director Ralph Rivera said. Edgar Rios, a 30-year veteran who was shot in the back, remained in an operating room, Rivera said.
The officers were shot amid an upsurge in violence in Trenton, an impoverished city of 84,000 where there had been 29 homicides prior to Thursday's shootout. The record of 31 was set in 2005.
The prosecutor said more than a half dozen bullets were fired in Thursday morning's encounter.
The detectives were following up on a domestic violence complaint that came in at about 2:30 a.m.
The victim was taken to the police station and a warrant was drawn up for her boyfriend's arrest, the prosecutor said. She returned to the house with detectives at about 8:45 a.m. It wasn't immediately clear if they expected him to be there when they brought the woman home.
The boyfriend was at the top of the stairs, leaving the house, when the woman identified him. He and the detectives then exchanged fire, the prosecutor said.
"When you walk into a domestic violence situation you never know what's going to happen," he said.
The woman had been "pretty severely injured" in the early morning assault, the prosecutor said. He said a puppy was also stabbed during the initial altercation.