An Upper Gwynedd Township man remained hospitalized Thursday after "a gang of thugs" ambushed and traded gunfire with him as he returned home with his wife and young children late Wednesday, authorities said.

When the shooting stopped, Jermaine R. Edwards had suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and one of his attackers lay dead, police said. The other attackers fled.

Investigators were spare with the details as they scoured the crime scene Thursday on Hancock Road. They declined to discuss why Edwards might have been a target. And they said they hadn't yet positively identified the dead man in his house.

But they did say the crime had the markings of a planned home invasion and robbery.

"This was not a random act of violence," Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said in a statement.

Asked about Edwards' condition, a spokeswoman from Abington Memorial Hospital declined to comment.

Court records indicate Edwards is on probation for drug charges in Montgomery County.

Wednesday's attack happened about two miles from the home of Robert Chae, the businessman fatally beaten and suffocated last year during a home invasion in Montgomery Township.

Authorities did not suggest that the Hancock Road robbery was related to Chae's death, but the latest crime reinforced the notion that such violence is no longer rare in the suburbs. In the last six months, police across the region have reported home-invasion robberies, including in East Goshen Township, Yeadon, and Upper Chichester.

Edwards was with his family when they were attacked outside their home around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ferman said in a joint statement with Upper Gwynedd Police Chief David Duffy.

The statement called the crime a robbery and labeled the assailants "thugs," but didn't offer a motive or say what, if anything, had been stolen. Ferman said police were looking for at least two accomplices and didn't know whether either had been injured in the shoot-out.

Public records show that Jolene R. Pierce, 27, Edwards' wife, bought the house in September 2007 with help from a relative. The phone is listed in Edwards' name.

In 2005, court records show, he was among 10 defendants charged by Montgomery County prosecutors in a broad drug-distribution conspiracy. Edwards pleaded guilty to a lesser count involving marijuana possession and was sentenced to five years of probation.

Earlier this year, he was arrested in Philadelphia for alleged drug possession - but the case was dismissed in April because a police officer failed to appear for his trial, according to the records.

Detectives combed the crime scene Thursday, scrutinizing a maroon-and-white shed next to the house where authorities suspect the attackers may have hidden before the ambush. Investigators towed a Mercury Mountaineer SUV and a Ford Econoline van from the property, but wouldn't discuss their significance.

A woman who lives next door and asked not to be identified said her grandchildren often played with the three young girls who lived at the house. It could not be learned how many children may have witnessed the attack.

Another neighbor, Joseph A. Pelletier, 85, said crime wasn't a problem in the area.

"This neighborhood has been pretty safe," said Pelletier, a broadcast-engineering consultant, who said he moved to the area in 1967. "But things are moving in this direction all the time."

Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.