A 24-year-old northeast man shot to death yesterday by two policemen after he threatened the officers with a butcher knife, District of Columbia police reported.

According to the police, Wendell Ernest Hughes, 24, of 234 Adams St. NE, was shot several times in his home after police received a call from a neighbor at 12:45 p.m. asking them to come to the house.

Officers James Jackson and Richard Rogers, both of the fifth district, responded to the call and found Hughes brandishing a butcher knife and running throughout the house, according to the police account.

Jackson and Rogers twice ordered Hughes to drop the knife, police said, but he continued to come after them, and the officers shot Hughes. He was pronounced dead at 3 p.m. by the D.C. Medical Examiner's Office.

Both police officers have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the shooting.

According to persons in the neighborhood of the detached, red brick house where the shooting occurred, Hughes was retarded and emotionally disturbed.

Serena Powell, of 230 Adams St., NE said her husband called police after Hughes' mother ran out of the house and told them that her son was chasing her daughter with a butcher knife.

Mrs Powell said she was told that Hughes became angry at his sister, Brenda Kelly,22, and began chasing her with a butcher knife. Hughes's mother, Mrs. Sylvester Kelly, then reportedly told her daughter to take her 2-year-old daughter into a room and lock the door, while she went to get help. The mother than ran into the street and asked the Powells to call the police, according to Mrs. Powell.