Police responding to a report of gunshots at a vacant duplex in Detroit where a neighbor said drugs were sold were met with heavy gunfire, killing one officer and wounding four others early Monday.

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Detroit police arrived at a vacant house early Monday morning after a neighbour reported hearing gunshots. They were met with gunfire that killed one officer and wounded four others. ((Mandi Wright/Associated Press))

It was the first time in five years that a Detroit police officer has been killed in the line of duty, police Chief Warren Evans said.

Two of the four surviving officers were treated and released and the two still hospitalized were expected to recover, police said.

The suspect, a man in his mid-20s, was arrested after fleeing the home, said police.

He was shot once in the lower back and was being treated at a local hospital, police spokesman John Roach said.

Police said officers responded to the two-storey building about 3:30 a.m. after a next-door neighbour reported hearing shots.

Shelia Brown, 47, said she was awakened by two to three gunshots early Monday, followed by eight to nine more. 

'It's a tough time for all of us. We're all kind of in a state of shock.'—Police Chief Warren Evans

Brown said she has been offered drugs by people while walking past the house.

"They ask you if you want to buy weed," said Brown, adding that she's called police before, but "they come out but the guys are gone by then."

The officers who responded to the call Monday positioned themselves at the front and rear entrances of the building, Roach said.

He said officers at the front of the house were met with heavy gunfire.

Police said the officer who was killed, who had been on the job at least 12 years and had a 10-year-old son, was shot inside the home and struck multiple times.

"It's a tough time for all of us," said Evans. "We're all kind of in a state of shock."

'Our community needs to stand up'

Evans and Mayor Dave Bing visited the slain officer's widow at St. John's Hospital in Detroit, where officers exchanged hugs early Monday morning with some of the dozens of people who had gathered outside an emergency room entrance awaiting word on the injured.

"It was the worst feeling I've had since I've been in this position," Bing said. "Our community needs to stand up."

Outside the hospital, Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh, whose brother is a police officer, said it was a difficult day for the city.

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Police said a .45-calibre handgun and approximately 450 grams of marijuana were recovered at the house, which is located on a block of mostly well-kept bungalows and two-storey duplexes. ((Mandi Wright/Associated Press))

"My heart goes out to them, to this whole team of officers, but certainly to the family -- the wife and child -- of that Detroit police officer who lost his life."

Police said a .45-calibre handgun and approximately 450 grams of marijuana were recovered at the house, which is located on a block of mostly well-kept bungalows and two-storey duplexes.

Several neighbours describe the block as quiet during the day, but say gunshots are commonly heard in the surrounding area.

Aisha Crenshaw said since beginning her job two weeks ago as a crossing guard at a nearby intersection, she has seen a black car with tinted windows parked in the driveway of the house every day.

She said she once saw a man leave the house and get into the vehicle.