An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper was expected to recover after being shot in the face after an early-morning traffic stop in Phoenix on Wednesday, and as many as five suspects remained at large after eluding two backup officers who returned fire.

The suspects' car was found abandoned hours after the shooting, but as of late Wednesday, a statewide manhunt had not yielded any arrests, AZCentral.com reports.

The 44-year-old officer, whose name was not released, survived a five-hour surgery after the attack and was in intensive care.

"He faces a long road to recovery," DPS spokesman Bart Graves said of the married, six-year veteran. "It's going to be a long time before he's going to be able to talk to anybody."

The incident took place before 3 a.m. at a motel near Interstate 17 and McDowell Road. The officer had pulled over a 2008 blue Mercury Sable with excessively tinted windows — a state violation.

The incident triggered the state's first Blue Alert — an emergency-notification system, similar to an Amber Alert, which enlists the help of commuters in locating people involved with killing or injuring an officer.

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