Hoonah police officers Tony Wallace and Matt Tokuoka died after the shooting late Saturday, said Bob Prunella, acting city administrator. Prunella didn't know what led to the shooting but said it was witnessed by Wallace's mother, who was visiting from Florida, and Tokuoka's wife and children.
The suspect, 45-year-old John Marvin Jr., barricaded himself in his home, and Alaska State Troopers and other law enforcement agencies were at the scene, authorities said.
There was no sign of a quick end to the standoff, Prunella said Sunday evening.
"This could go on for a while," he said. "They really want to get him alive."
Tokuoka's father-in-law, George Martin, said Tokuoka, 39, was off-duty and had left Martin's home with his wife and two children moments before the shooting.
Martin said he heard two shots, which were directed at Wallace, who was on-duty. The shots hit Wallace, Martin said.
Tokuoka told his wife and children to get away from the site, and then he was shot as well, Martin said.
"I imagine he was trying to administer help to this other officer when he got hit," he said.
Prunella didn't know how Wallace's mother, happened to witness the shooting, which occurred a few days after she arrived.
Wallace, 32, died during surgery in Juneau, 40 miles east of Hoonah, and Tokuoka died early Sunday at a clinic in the Native village, according to Martin.
"The whole town's in shock," he said. "I've been getting calls all day. It's a bad situation."
Martin said his home is just a block and a half from Marvin's. He didn't know why the officers were ambushed but said police have had run-ins with Marvin in the past. He said Marvin lives alone.
Alaska State Troopers were leading a multi-agency response, and spokeswoman Megan Peters said a warrant was issued for Marvin's arrest.
Troopers were urging residents in the shoreline community of about 800 to stay away from the area.
Prunella said the deaths leave the Tlingit village with just two full-time officers - the police chief and a trainee. He said the southeast Alaska town of Wrangell sent some officers to help out as needed.
According to the law enforcement networking website www.usacops.com, Wallace had been with the Hoonah Police Department since 2008. He is from upstate New York and was a college wrestler. Wallace served as the small department's evidence officer, and was recently designated as a breath-test maintenance technician.
The site says Tokuoka was a former Marine Corps staff sergeant who served in special operations.
The Hawaii native has been with the department since spring 2009.