A Tucson police officer shot in the head during a burglary call was recovering and answering questions after surgery Sunday.

Sgt. Robert Carpenter, 46, was at University of Arizona Medical Center surrounded by family, friends and fellow officers, Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said at a press briefing outside the hospital Sunday.

Carpenter, a 12-year-veteran of the Tucson Police Department, was hit by a large-caliber bullet and was in stable but critical condition, police said.

The shooter - whom Villaseñor described as "a very dangerous individual" - was still at large Sunday night.

Villaseñor said officers were responding to a triggered alarm at a house in the 4000 block of East Elmwood Street at 1:43 a.m. That's near East Broadway and North Alvernon Way.

There they saw a man described as Hispanic, between the ages of 20 and 30, run off. He was described as 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds and was wearing jeans and a dark blue jersey with a red number 43 outlined in white.

After officers left, another alarm call came in from the same house at 5:15 a.m. This time, officers found signs of forced entry, Villaseñor said.

Officers checked the house and found no one inside.

While standing outside the home, officers reported hearing a shot, then saw Carpenter collapse.

Villaseñor described the incident as "very traumatic" to the officers and said investigators were trying to determine what was in the house that made the burglar come back.

The homeowner, Sean Davis, 39, was camping near Patagonia when the incident occurred, he said Sunday afternoon.

A text message from his ex-wife alerted Davis about trouble at his home. He telephoned his ex-wife and was told that police officers were at his house, and he rushed home, said Davis, a learning support coordinator for the Tucson Unified School District.

Accompanied by police, Davis did a walk-through of his house Sunday afternoon. He said the person entered the house through a bathroom window the first time, and then smashed a sliding-glass door with a rock the second time and entered his home.

Davis said he was in disbelief at news of the officer's shooting.

"The guy got away with it twice and still feels a need to shoot somebody in the head," Davis said.

His house is in an area known as Poets Corner, a part of the Peter Howell Neighborhood Association, northeast of Broadway and Alvernon Way.

The Special Weapons and Tactics team, K-9 units, a police helicopter and patrol units flooded the neighborhood Sunday, and SWAT officers went door to door contacting families and searching the neighborhood into the early afternoon.

Police said the shooter wasn't found, and investigators asked that anyone with information call 911 or 88-CRIME. Homicide and burglary unit detectives remained at the scene, as did Internal Affairs investigators who look at any shooting involving an officer.

Sgt. Maria Hawke, a TPD spokeswoman, said police do not know if the same person broke in twice at the Elmwood Street house. Officers did not see who fired the shot that struck Carpenter, or know where the shot came from, Hawke said.

Neighborhood resident Sharon Foltz said the area has seen its share of problems with mail stolen and attempted robberies, including an auto theft.

However, she said she was surprised by Sunday's shooting of the officer because that type of violence hasn't occurred in the area.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com