- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - A manhunt for multiple suspects was underway in the Phoenix area Wednesday after an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer was shot in the face during a traffic stop and responding officers got into a shootout, authorities said.

DPS officials said the wounded officer underwent five hours of surgery at a Phoenix hospital and was in intensive care but in stable condition Wednesday afternoon.

The shooting occurred just before 3 a.m. on or next to an Interstate 17 frontage road in Phoenix as the officer approached a car he stopped for extremely dark tinted windows, officials said.

The wounded officer was able to radio for help, law enforcement spokesmen said.

Other officers arrived a few minutes later, and shots were fired at them from the suspect vehicle. The officers returned fire, but the vehicle left the scene.

Several hours later, a Phoenix Police Department spokesman said authorities had located the vehicle and were searching the vicinity. The spokesman, Officer James Holmes, declined to specify the location.

More than three people - believed to be young adults - were in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, said Bart Graves, Department of Public Safety spokesman.

The officer’s name was being withheld, but authorities said he’s a six-year veteran.

Holmes said the discovery of the vehicle led authorities to cancel “blue alert” messages that were displayed on electronic signs on area freeways throughout the morning. The messages described the suspect vehicle as a blue Mercury Sable with a Kansas license plate, but authorities later also listed an Arizona license plate.

Police said I-17 remained open after the shooting, but the frontage road and several nearby exit and entrance ramps were closed as police conducted their investigation.

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