Three Prince George's County police officers involved in the shooting of a woman shoplifting suspect after she fired a pistol at them Monday night were "justified in using deadly force to defend themselves," police officials said yesterday.

The trhee, who were routinely suspended with pay following the shooting, were restored to duty yesterday by Acting Chief Joseph Vasco following an internal police investigation.

The woman, Loraie M. Ellis, 36, of 501 Lebaum St. SE, remained in critical condition yesterday at Prince George's General Hospital. Police said she was wounded in the right side and once in each leg.

According to police, Ellis allegedly threatened security guards with a .38-caliber pistol when they confronted her after allegedly seeing her empty cigarette packages into her purse and pocket at a K mart in the 3900 block of St. Barnabas Road, Marlow Heights.

One of the guards chased the woman from the store and police were called.

Sgt. Dean Kapiskosky, the first officer on the scene, pursued the woman on foot, ordering her to surrender, according to police. As they approached the median strip of Branch Avenue, police said, the woman fired at Kapiskosky and officer Eugene Patterson, who had arrived to assit. The officers returned the fire, but with no apparent effect, police said.

The woman fired again at the two officers and a third, David Brown, and all three returned the fire, police said. At this point, the woman was wounded.

Larry Titus, the security guard who chased the woman from the store, confirmed the police account yesterday. He said the police officers did not take their guns from their holsters until after the woman had shot at them.

Titus said there were about 100 customers in the store when the incident occurred about 7 p.m.