A 40-year-old woman remained in critical condition with a gunshot wound yesterday after threatening a female police officer with a machete on a narrow stairway, authorities said.

The woman, whose identity was not released, was shot in the side Tuesday evening after police went to a house on the 600 block of Russell Street in the Frankinville section in response to a call that children had been left home alone.

Three children, ages 5, 8 and 10, were found alone in "deplorable conditions" in the house and child-welfare officials, who arrived later, decided to remove them from the home, said Chief Inspector William Colarulo, of Internal Affairs.

Officials were preparing to take the children away when their mother arrived home and a Spanish-speaking officer was summoned to serve as an interpreter, Colarulo said.

He said the woman became "irate" when the officer explained to her that the children had to be removed from such squalid conditions, and she ran back into the house.

The 5-year-old child also ran back into the house with the Spanish-speaking policewoman following, said Colarulo.

The child went up the stairs and when the officer got to the landing, the women emerged from a room with a machete.

"She said she would kill the children and anyone who tried to take them," Colarulo said.

The woman chopped into a banister at the top of the stairs and the officer tried to back away, he said. But the woman continued to advance and the officer fired once, hitting her in the side.

She was taken to Temple University Hospital, where she remained in critical condition, police said.

The officer has been placed on administrative while Internal Affairs and the District Attorney's office investigate the shooting, a standard procedure.

The shooting came about 18 hours after a police officer in the Point Breeze section shot and killed a man who had fired a shotgun twice inside a house and pointed the weapon at police on the street.

On Russell Street yesterday, no one answered the door at the home, where a sheet of plywood covered a shattered front window.

But the door, which had no knob, opened to the knock and inside the house looked disheveled and dirty. Outside, a TV satellite dish attached to second floor offered a sharp contrast to the conditions inside.