Police are investigating a shootout during an apparent home invasion robbery in suburban Upper Gwynedd that left a bandit dead and the father of the house critically wounded.

It is not yet clear why the home on the 100 block of Hancock Road was targeted.

Police Chief David Duffy said the robbery unfolded about 10:40 p.m. Wednesday when four or five men who had been lying in wait ambushed a couple and their three daughters in the driveway of their home.

The robbers forced the family into the split-level house where "gunfire was exchanged," Duffy told TV news crews at the scene.

One of the robbers was killed and the father of the house was critically wounded, he said. The other assailants fled.

The wounded man, who has not yet been identified, was taken to Abington Hospital, where he reportedly underwent surgery.

This morning, detectives examined a white shed where the would-be robbers apparently waited before pouncing.

Police also were attempting to start a windowless white van parked in a nearby cul-de-sac. They would not say what had interest they had in the vehicle.

Joseph A. Pelletier, 85, a retired broadcast engineering consultant and 43-year resident of the neighborhood, said he was stunned by the violence.

Still, he noted, crime was encroaching on the area.

"Things are moving in this direction all the time," Pelletier said. "At one time this was safest township in the county."

The neighborhood is about 1.5 miles from the Montgomery Township home where Korean businessman Robert Chae was killed during a home invasion robbery in January 2009. Seven people have been convicted in that case.

Pelletier said it was upsetting to know armed men with criminal intent had been in his neighborhood, but he was gratified the homeowner fought back.

"I'm glad he got one," he said. "Too bad he didn't get all of them."

Contact staff writer Bonnie Cook at bcook@phillynews.com