D. C. police are investigating the death of a Virginia man who was fatally shot Wednesday night by a private security guard at the Trailways Bus Terminal in downtown Washington.

The victim, identified as James W. Jenkins, was shot in the lower left back when a security guard's .38-caliber revolver apparently discharged accidently, police said. Jenkins died at George Washington University Hospital about one hour later.

Police said Jenkins was shot during an argument with Jesse King, 33, a Seaboard Security Systems guard who patrolled the terminal. King has not been charged, police said.But his licence to carry a gun has been suspended pending the investigation, police said.

According to police, Jenkins and a companion had arrived here aboard a bus from News Jersey bound for the South. During the layover, Jenkins noticed from inside the bus that his bags had been removed by a terminal employe, and he alighted to talk to the employe.

An argument ensued after Jenkins refused to produce his ticket to confirm that the baggage was his, police said. King was called, and when Jenkins refused King's request to see a ticket, a scuffle followed. Police said Jenkins seized King's nightstick, prompting King to draw his gun.

Police said King attempted to handcuff Jenkins, and when Jenkins continued to struggle the gun fired.

Charles Thompson, a bus passenger who said he witnessed the shooting, said, "Passengers put their own baggage on the buses all the time; I even do it myself. When we put our baggage on the buses ourselves we don't get a ticket for it. I saw the man put his own baggage aboard the bus and a few minutes later the baggage attendant came and moved it to another bus."