Louise McKenna, 61, was shot in the head Friday night when she apparently surprised a burglar in her Silver Spring home. Twelve days earlier Rose Blanco, 68, was shot to death in her home about six blocks away.

The neighborhood - like so many others that have felt violent crimes in quick succession - will probably never be quite the same again.

Some residents who said yesterday that they never thought about safety, are now talking that "buying a gun," "getting a dog" and "changing the lock" on the door.

There is talk of an area "going down" and talk, with only emotion to support it, of strangers from a nearby low-income housing project causing problems in their once peaceful community.

Neighbors - most of whom are white - point to an old wooden bridge at the end of Grace Church Road that crosses railroad tracks and opens to the area where lower-income blacks live - in Rosemary HIlls. The increase in crime there, some say, has "crossed the bridge."

"It's across the tracks where they are probably coming from," he said. Like most of the residents he offered no evidence to support the claim. Nor do police. But he believes it nonetheless, like many others.

A frightened 70-year-old woman, who lives with her retired husband across the street from the McKenna home, said she "suspected" the burglar came from "across the bridge."

An interviewed yesterday believed the shootings were not perpetrated by residents on their side of the bridge.

And although many of the residents like 30-year-old Frederick Snead thought the two shootings were linked, none of them planned to leave the neighborhood.

"It was a freak incident and it probably won't happen again for years in this area," said Bob Jones, 30, who was working on his car around the corner from where Mrs. McKenna was shot.

Bruce Demary, 33, who lives down the street from Mrs. McKenna, contrasted this view saying: "You're damn right I'm scared . . . I'm going to change the lock on my front door."

The victim of Friday night's shooting, Mrs. McKenna, of 2009 Grace Church Rd., was in stable condition yesterday at Washington Adventist Hospital.

Police said yesterday that they were still investigating whether there may be a connection between Mrs. McKenna's wounding and the May 31 death of Rose Blanco, 68, who was shot to death in her home at 2301 East-West Highway, about six blocks away from Grace Church Road.

Police have not established a motive for Mrs. Blanco's slaying, but have said that a purse was removed after Mrs. McKenna was wounded.

Police, who say that this area has been plagued by burglaries, said the incident Friday night happened shortly before 7 p.m. when Mrs. McKenna returned home from her job as a secretary at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Police said Mrs. McKenna reportedly said she had just walked into the living-dining area when she felt a sharp pain in her head and fell to the floor. She noticed her head was bleeding, police said, but was able to go for help to a neighbor's house across the street, police said.

Police said they did not know what type of gun was used in the incident.

In the earlier incident, Mrs. Blanco's husband, Abraham, discovered his wife lying over the back of the living room sofa in front of a bay window after returning home from a doctor's appointment at about 11 a.m. She had been shot in the back of the head.

Police found no signs of forced entry, but believe that Mrs. Blanco was shot from inside the house since a bullet went through the bay window and was found outside.