A police pursuit of a gun-packing bicyclist in South Philadelphia early yesterday ended with the armed biker dead and an officer wounded.

The drama began shortly before 1:30 a.m. when two cops responding to an assist-officer call got sidetracked when they spotted a bulge in the back waistband of bicyclist Ernest Barber, 26, of Kingsessing, police said.

They stopped Barber at 6th and Hoffman streets to investigate, but Barber brandished a .45-caliber pistol and fled on his bike, said Chief Inspector William Colarulo of Internal Affairs.

He ditched his wheels outside a home a block away, sprinted inside with the officers hot on his heels and tried to shut them outside, said Sgt. William Gallagher of homicide. When the officers forced their way in, Barber bashed one in the face with his pistol and bolted back outside, Gallagher said.

He then turned and aimed the pistol at the police, Gallagher said. But the cops had quicker trigger-fingers and fired 14 times before the suspect could get off a shot, police said.

Barber, of Willows Avenue near Cobbs Creek Parkway, was hit multiple times and was declared dead at the scene at 1:45 a.m., Gallagher said.

Detectives found that Barber's "Uzi-type" gun was loaded with 30 rounds, Colarulo said. Inside the home, they found two more loaded semi-automatic pistols and two baggies of crack cocaine, he added. It wasn't clear how or whether Barber was related to the home's residents.

Criminal records indicate Barber had an extensive history of drug, gun and related offenses.

The officers were placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation, which is standard procedure in such shootings.

One officer, a 37-year-old man with 13 years on the force, suffered facial injuries from the pistol-whipping, Colarulo said. The other officer, a 28-year-old woman and eight-year veteran, was uninjured. They were unidentified.

Police-involved shootings are down this year, statistics show.

Yesterday's incident was the 34th police-involved shooting (and eighth fatality) so far this year, compared with 40 (and 12 fatalities) at the same time last year, Colarulo said.

There were 110 police-involved shootings (including 22 fatalities) in all of last year, he added. They included everything from accidental gun discharges to shootings involving civilians and animals. *