Gustav Akerland, the acting mayor of Annapolis, remained in critical condition yesterday after being found shot in the head in his office on Saturday night. Police said they believe the case was an attempted suicide.

Akerland, 60, underwent emergency surgery an Anne Arndel General Hospital shortly after police found him on the floor of the mayor's office at about 9:30 p.m., a .22-caliber rifle lying next to him.

Police had come to the office next door to City Hall to check an alarm which Akerland himself apparently set off before the shooting by pushing an emergency button on his assistant's desk.

A retired Air Force colonel, Akerland had served as a city alderman since 1977 and last month took over temporarily as mayor when John Apostol resigned the post to take a job with a bank in Florida.

Akerland, a Republican, had no plans to run in an election in May to select a new mayor, but planned to seek his alderman's seat again.

Yesterday friends said they were mystified by the shooting. "He had spoken about the pressures of the position," said Alderman John T. Chambers, who will assume Akerland's functions as acting mayor. "But no one felt that he was taking it as seriously as that."

Other acquaintances said he had become obsessed with preparing the city's budget and was concerned that the city is facing serious financial problems.