D.C. police said yesterday that they believe a Wisconsin Avenue motel clerk who was shot to death early Monday was the victim of a revenge slaying and that a security guard who also was shot was just "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Homicide Capt. Arif Mosrie said the clerk, Loring Mitchell Topp, 25, was found slain in a basement room of the Holiday Inn at 2505 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. His hands had been tied and he was shot between the eyes, police said.

The security guard, who survived a similar wound to the temple, was able to crawl from the room and summon help. The guard, Roderick D. Hairston, 23, was in serious but stable condition yesterday at Georgetown University Medical Center. Hairston was under heavy police security, Mosrie said.

Hairston was able to tell police that only one gunman was involved in the shootings.

Police said they discounted robbery as a motive after finding cash in the clerk's drawer. Detectives were continuing an intensive investigation into Topp's past, interviewing friends and associates, to learn why someone might want him killed.

Detectives also were investigating reports of a black van that a guest said drove away moments before police arrived at the motel abut 4:20 a.m. Monday. One occupant of a black van was later stopped by police but was released after questioning, police said.

Both victims were in the lobby of the eight -- story motel located when the gunman entered, police said. The gunmen forced the men into a basement electrical room where the shootings occured.