Prince George's County police officials spent yesterday defending their handling of an incident Monday night in which, they said, an officer shot and killed an apparent burglary suspect who turned out to be a D.C. police officer.

Witnesses said the men arrived at the house within minutes of one another. Both apparently saw the same evidence of a break-in: a broken window. Both drew their service revolvers -- the D.C. officer, who arrived first, inside his house; the Prince George's officer on the outside.

As the outside officer played his flashlight across the back yard, the man inside moved to the window, a county police spokesman said. Seeing the movement, the Prince George's officer moved to the window and called out "freeze" to the man inside, then fired one shot from seven feet away, according to the county police account. Inside, the D.C. officer lay dead or dying, shot in the chest.

The harshest criticism of the tragic circumstances came yesterday from D.C. police officers, who abandoned the usual protocol of mutual respect and in numerous conversations with reporters asked for anonymity and accused Prince George's officials of "highly irregular" delays in allowing paramedics to treat the victim. They also said Prince George's County failed to cooperate with District officers quickly.

"The whole thing was mishandled," said a high-ranking D.C. police official who asked not to be identified.

D.C. police Officer James L. Gordon, 41, who had worked as a uniformed officer for 17 years, was shot once in the chest at 6:38 p.m. as he stood in the family room of his house at 10612 Mount Lubentia Way. He was shot by Prince George's County police Cpl. Robert W. Raimond, 27. The D.C. residency requirement did not affect Gordon, who was a member of the D.C. police department before the residency requirement was enacted.

The shooting is being investigated by Prince George's County police. D.C. Police Chief Maurice T. Turner Jr. had several discussions about the investigation with Prince George's County Police Chief Michael J. Flaherty yesterday, sources said.

Some D.C. police officers, however, called for an independent board to investigate the incident and expressed skepticism about the ability of Prince George's County police to conduct an objective investigation.

About two minutes after the shooting, an ambulance from the nearby Kentland Volunteer Fire Department was sent to Gordon's home and arrived within a few minutes, a fire department spokesman said.

But the ambulance crew was not immediately allowed inside the house, county police said, because officers were unsure whether there were any other armed suspects in the house. An officer with a police dog went inside the two-story home first.

"We had no idea who else was inside," said Cpl. Bruce Gentile, a Pr. George's county police spokesman. "We were not going to allow paramedics inside without being sure. This is standard police procedure."

But D.C. police officials strongly disagreed with county police on that point, saying that their officers would not have turned the paramedics away for any reason. "The first commitment we have is to save an injured person," said one D.C. police official.

According to a D.C. investigative report, two paramedics and two firefighters were prevented from administering care to Gordon.

Only minutes before, according to the D.C. police report, Raimond had radioed to police that "the suspect is still on the floor with gun . . . . He is injured but still alive."

The state pathologist who performed an autopsy on Gordon said that any delay would not have made a difference to the officer's survival. "The damage to the heart was such that there was no chance that he would have survived," Dr. Julia Gordin said.

At an early-morning news conference, a Prince George's police spokesman had said that Gordon was given "immediate medical assistance."

Yesterday, police spokesman Robert Law said Gordon was given medical assistance "as quickly as we could get it safely to him." Law said the earlier statement resulted from the release of information before the preliminary investigation was complete.

Five D.C. police officers, including a homicide lieutenant and a district commander, also were turned away from Gordon's home after the shooting, District officers said, complaining that they were not notified about the incident for several hours.

County police officials said that D.C. police were not allowed to remain at the crime scene after Gordon's body was identified because technicians were still gathering evidence. "Not even our chief would have been allowed to stay there until we were finished gathering evidence," said Gentile, a county police spokesman.

Gordon was shot after the Prince George's County officer responded to a call about a burglary in a neighborhood where authorities said 22 burglaries had been reported in the past two weeks. According to the D.C. police report of the investigation, a neighbor called Prince George's County police at 6:29 p.m. to report a burglary at Gordon's home. Gordon apparently had returned to his home and was investigating the break-in himself when Raimond arrived.

At 6:35 p.m., Raimond radioed to police that he was on the scene. Five minutes later, Raimond radioed, "One suspect shot by me." One minute later, he reported that the suspect was still on the floor, but was still alive, according to the report.

A neighbor, Mark Spriggs, a 26-year-old Army sergeant home for the holidays, said he watched from his kitchen window as Raimond got out of his cruiser, walked to the home's rear right corner and began "peeking around from the corner and then pointing his flashlight into the basement entrance."

As Raimond walked toward the family room window, Spriggs said, "He apparently saw someone inside the house." At that point, Prince George's police said, Raimond "identified himself as a police officer and ordered what appeared to be an armed burglary suspect to drop the gun."

But Spriggs said, "All I heard was {Raimond} yell 'Freeze.' " When Raimond called out, Spriggs said, the man inside the house raised his hands as if he were holding a weapon. That is when Gordon was shot.

About 11:40 p.m., three D.C. homicide detectives went to Gordon's home, but were ordered to leave the scene by a Prince George's uniformed captain, according to the D.C. police report.

Raimond, a uniformed officer assigned to the county's Bowie District, has been placed on routine adminstrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the internal investigation into the shooting.

Police described Raimond as a "good cop" who had earned 15 commendations during his six years with the force.

Raimond has been the subject of two complaints about police brutality, but was cleared by a police trial board both times. In October, a federal jury in Baltimore awarded $4,400 to a Riverdale man who had said that Raimond used unnecessary force and violated his civil rights during a traffic stop in March 1984.

Gordon's colleagues yesterday described him as "a very steady and stable person" and a "solid police officer."

"He was a great guy," said Paul Wyland, an officer at the 5th Police District. "I worked with him for quite a few years, and he was one of the more dependable officers. He was a good policeman."

D.C. police officials yesterday also questioned why five District officers -- including the commander of the 5th Police District and three homicide detectives -- were not allowed to remain in Gordon's home during the investigation.

"This was highly irregular," said a D.C. police official. "We never turn away an investigator from another police unit. We automatically assist them, and provide them with information. These were ranking D.C. police officials who were turned away."

Raimond was dispatched to the Largo neighborhood off of Largo Road near the Capital Centre after a neighbor of Gordon's saw a person trying to break into Gordon's house through a rear window, county police said.Staff writer Keith Harriston contributed to this report.