Officer Brian Huff, 45, was Detroit's first police officer to be gunned down in the line of duty in five years. Police have not released the name of the gunman.
Police were called to a vacant house around 3 a.m. with reports of shots fired, Officer Phillip Cook said today.
"When they entered the dwelling, that's when the shooting started," he said.
Cook did not know who called 911 or where the other four officers were shot. Three have since been released from the hospital.
Neighbors told ABC's Detroit affiliate WXYZ that they heard 16 shots in total. Cook said officers recovered marijuana from the house.
Huff was a 12-year veteran of the police department. He leaves behind a wife and a 10-year-old son.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing met this morning with Huff's widow and son.
"I apologized. I know she's in pain and she knows that she's got our support," he told WXYZ. "They're all distraught and we can understand that."
Bing said that Huff was considered "family."
Police Chief Warren Evans said it was unclear if the shooting was a set-up. He told WXYZ that the officers were met at the door by a man with a handgun.
Huff was shot multiple times, he said. The other officers suffered non-life threatening shots to the hands and legs.
"It's a tough time for all of us," he said. "We're all just kind of in a state of shock."
Evans called Huff a "great police officer -- loved by most everyone here."
"It's just one of those tragic things that can jump up on all of us," Evans said.
Cook said it was unclear whether there may be more suspects arrested in the case.
Detroit, home to the nation's auto industry, has been hit extraordinarily hard by the recession. Vacant and crumbling buildings in many places in the city have been overtaken by squatters or drug dealers.
Last year, Detroit was ranked the deadliest city in the country, with 339 murders in 2008.
In March Bing vowed to begin tearing down 10,000 blighted and abandoned buildings in the next four years.
He reiterated the need for attention to vacant properties after today's shooting, telling WXYZ, "these houses that are empty, we've got to get rid of them."
Forbes recently ranked Detroit as one of the worst cities in the country for jobs.