A Northeast Washington man being sought in connection with Monday's shooting of D.C. police officer Pauline V. Howard was arrested last night about one block from the corner at 19th Street and Benning Road NE where the shooting occurred, police officials reported.

The suspect, Michael A. Bailey, 24, of 1945 Bennett Pl. NE, had been charged in a D.C. Superior Court warrant obtained by police yesterday afternoon with assault with intent to kill in the incident, officials said.

They said homicide detectives had tried to serve the warrant on Bailey at his home at about 8 p.m., but finding no one there began interviewing neighbors and searching the area around the scene of the shooting.

About 90 minutes later, officials said, Bailey approached two uniformed police officers on the sidewalk at 18th Street and Benning Road, identified himself, and was immediately taken into custody.

Bailey, who was unemployed, was being held without bond in the central cell block at police headquarters last night pending arraignment on the assault charge today in Superior Court. Investigators said they obtained the arrest warrant after interviewing witnesses to the shooting, but declined to disclose further details of the investigation.

Howard, 27, was critically wounded shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday as she sought to question a suspect in the robbery of a nearby carryout restaurant three weeks earlier. As Howard approached him, the man suddenly drew a .22-caliber pistol and fired two shots at her point-blank, police officials said.

The officer was struck in the abdomen by one of the bullets and fell into the street but managed to summon help with her portable radio. The gunman fled immediately and a massive police search of the neighborhood proved unsuccessful.

Howard underwent more than four hours of emergency surgery at Washington Hospital Center Monday night, and hospital officials said yesterday that her condition continues to improve.

The shooting was the second of a D.C. police officer on duty in a week. On Sept. 14, Officer Donald G. Luning, an 11-year veteran of the force, was shot to death with his own service revolver during a struggle with the driver of a stolen car.

A 19-year-old far Northeast man was arrested within hours of the slaying after police conducted a door-to-door search of an apartment building at 37th and Hayes streets NE, near where Luning was shot.

That suspect, Mark Anthony Watson, was subsequently arraigned on a charge of first-degree murder. Police and court officials said at the time that Watson had been wanted on previous burglary and firearms violation charges.

Luning, 31, was buried Saturday with full police department honors. He was the first D.C. police officer to be killed in the line of duty since February 1980, when officer Arthur P. Snyder was shot to death on 14th Street NW while attempting to make a drug-related arrest.