A 20-year-old Howard University junior who was seated in his car outside a university dormitory early yesterday was shot and killed in what police described as an apparent robbery attempt.

A second student, a sophomore, was shot and wounded in the attack, which came about 1 a.m. as the students, both residents at Carver Hall, were about to leave for a late night snack, authorities said.

The student who was killed was identified as Blaine W. Oitts, of Dover, Del. University authorities said he was majoring in political science. A relative said she believed he intended to become a pharmacist.

The wounded student was identified as Leonard C. Poulson, 20, a mathematics major from Baltimore.

According to police, both were in Pitts' auto near the dormitory, at 211 Elm St. NW, a few blocks south and east of the main campus quadrangle, when two men -- one with a gun -- approached the car on the driver's side.

When they reached the car, police said, one of the men ordered: "Hand it over."

At that point, according to investigators, a shot was fired, striking Pitts in the chest and wounding him fatally.

Two more shots were fired, police said, striking Poulson in the legs. He was taken to Howard University Hospital where he was listed in fair condition.

Pitts' aunt in Delaware, Barbara Goode, said the family could find no explanation for the shooting.

"We just don't understand it," she said. "There was no reason."

Although Pitts was able to finance his education, she said, he was not wealthy and "wasn't the type of person to carry a lot of money with him.

"He was an average college student," Goode said.

University authorities said that Pitts had a part-time job as a desk clerk at Carver Hall, the 30-year-old dormitory where he lived along with 191 other students, including Poulson.

Pitts' father, John W. Pitts, is a physical education teacher at the middle school in Milford, Del., Goode said.

She said the slain man had two sisters and a brother. One sister, Roxanne, is a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta. The other sister, Vivian, and the brother, John W. Jr., both attend Dover High School from which the victime had graduated.