Both suspects were killed in the shootout, which began on the street about 5 a.m. and ended a few hours later when SWAT officers fought their way into an apartment where the man and woman had taken cover. The assaulting officers were met by shotgun blasts that ripped through the apartment building's walls and doors.
One of the suspects had "some kind of automatic shotgun," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said. Residents of the complex said they awoke to the sounds of gunfire and police running down their halls.
Marlon Harrison said gunshots echoed off the alley wall outside his second-floor apartment window.
"It was like the Army out there," Harrison said.
Doctors at Jersey City Medical Center said the most seriously injured officer, who was shot in the face, was in full cardiac arrest, with no signs of life, when he arrived for treatment. Doctors had to bring him back to life "five or six times" before they could stabilize him, he said.
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, sending residents scrambling for cover in a violent neighborhood known for illegal drug sales.
"This individual came fully ready to go to war with us," said Police Chief Tom Comey. "This is a gun meant for nothing other than to hunt a man."
When the bullets stopped flying, both suspects were dead and five officers were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Three other officers were treated for minor injuries, such as flying glass.
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.
The gunfight began when the suspects approached their car. The man pulled out a pump-action shotgun and fired at the marked police car, blowing out its windshield. One of the officers was shot in the leg.
"If our officer had not vacated the unmarked car we would not be talking about the officer right now," said Healy. "He'd be gone."
The subsequent injuries all took place during the apartment assault. The most seriously injured officers, who are both in critical but stable condition, were shot in the face and neck, respectively. A bulletproof vest protected the fourth officer from a shot to the chest. A member of the emergency services unit of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was shot in the arm.
No names have been released.
The street where the shooting took place remained roped off with police tape Wednesday as investigators checked a weed-strewn vacant lot nearby for bullets.
Video from WCBS