A 32-year-old Northwest Washington woman was seriously wounded and left paralyzed in a shooting at her apartment Friday night during an apparent domestic argument, D.C. police said.

Her suspected assailant, believed by police to be the woman's companion, was still at large yesterday after D.C. police wrongly assumed that they had the man cornered in her apartment early yesterday.

Authorities identified the woman as Karen Young, 32, of 617 Jefferson Street NW.

Young was rushed to the Washington Hospital Center Friday night in critical condition. Hospital spokesman yesterday said her condition had improved to serious, but that she was paralyzed from the wounds.

She was found shot in the back at her apartment at about 7:33 p.m. Friday. But police were tipped that the assailant had returned to the apartment at about 3 a.m. Saturday, a police spokesman said.

A large contingent of Special Operations Division officers, homicide and plainclothes officers led by 4th District Capt. Mike Canfield subsequently descended on the apartment. Three hours later, according to a spokesman, police rushed the apartment and found it empty.

"He's still at large. We do have a suspect . . . ," said Detective Melvin Hemphill. "We are in the process of getting an arrest warrant."

Canfield was injured in the subsequent raid of the apartment when a tear gas canister exploded and burned in his hand, said police. He was treated at the hospital center.