An unidentified man was in critical condition in an area hospital, and two men were arrested and charged with assault after an early-morning shooting on H Street NW that was followed by a Secret Service and police pursuit, District police said.

The chase ended on an exit off of Interstate 295, where the suspects' vehicle, apparently riddled with bullets and leaking gas, hit a concrete wall and erupted into flames, police said.

"It's all very confusing, and it's still under investigation," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman.

Gentile said the incident began at 3:19 a.m. with the shooting of an unidentified man on the 1400 block of H Street NW. An off-duty police officer heard the shooting and broadcast a lookout for a car, Gentile said. Gentile did not disclose the make and year of the vehicle and would not say whether the victim and the people in the suspects' vehicle had traded gunfire with anyone.

In the same neighborhood a short time later, uniformed Secret Service officers on patrol noticed a car apparently riddled with bullet holes and leaking gas, Gentile said.

The officers gave chase, and District police picked up the pursuit of the vehicle at Fourth and H streets NW, Gentile said. The car proceeded south through the Third Street tunnel, then onto I-295 north, apparently with one tire blown out, he said.

"At some point during the pursuit, the subject or subjects in the car fired at the police vehicles," Gentile said. Investigators found three bullet holes in the front of one of the police cars that pursued the suspects' vehicle.

As the car tried to exit off I-295 at Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, it hit a concrete highway wall and caught fire, Gentile said.

The driver of the vehicle fled and is being sought by police.

Police officers pulled two other men from the burning car and discovered a melted machine gun inside the burned vehicle, Gentile said. He said damage to the machine gun has made identification of the weapon difficult.

Gentile said the two men who were arrested, Anthony Slater, 19, of Hyattsville, and Charles Williams, 24, of the 700 block of 11th Street NW, were charged with assault with intent to kill in connection with the shooting of the H Street victim. They were also charged with assault on a police officer while armed. The suspects were treated for minor injuries at D.C. General Hospital and are in police custody, Gentile said.

The shooting victim is in critical condition at an area hospital, Gentile said. His identity was not disclosed because he is considered a crime witness, he said. The victim was shot several times.