A 25-year-old Northeast Washington man pleaded guilty yesterday to shooting a D.C. policewoman who was critically wounded Sept. 20 when she tried to question him about the robbery of a carryout restaurant.

Michael Bailey, of the 1900 block of Bennett Place NE, faces life in prison after pleading guilty to robbery and assaulting a police officer while armed in connection with the shooting of officer Pauline V. Howard at 19th Street and Benning Road NE.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Peter H. Wolf set sentencing for Jan. 20.

According to police accounts, Howard was shot after she had responded to a call from the manager of the carryout, who said he thought he recognized a man, suspected of robbing the store, standing outside on the corner.

As Howard approached Bailey to question him about that robbery, Bailey suddenly drew a .22-caliber pistol and fired two shots at her point-blank, police said.

Howard was struck in the stomach and fell in the street, but managed to summon help on her radio. She later underwent four hours of surgery.

Bailey turned himself in to police two days later and was charged with the shooting.

Howard, who has been released from the hospital, is on leave from police work.