Terry Seibolt, a Secret Service agency assigned to the White House said she draws her service revolver before she walks from her car to her apartment in Rock Creek Gardens in Silver Spring late at night.

Two other women in the suburban complex kept their doors chained while they spoke to a female visitor who came to ask them -- at midday -- if they have been frightened by recent events.

Avery Williams, a tenant for 11 years, said he had instructed his wife and children not to open their door when he is not around. He accompanies his wife to the laundry room, and he doesn't let his children roam around the place at night.

In the past month, the area around their clean quiet, landscaped complex has been the site of seven armed robberies and a rape-shooting.

The first incident occurred July 26 when Howard Giberman was tied up in his apartment by a man who threatened him with a gun and stole his tape recorder, camera, wallet, watch and ring. The robber had come to the door posing as a janitor carrying a bottle of ammonia and a rag, which concealed his gun.

Since then, there have been four street robberies and an attempted robbery in which the victims -- all elderly women -- were accosted by a man with a pocket knife. Each time, police said, he told the women, "Give me your money, or I'll cut you."

But the incident that shocked the apartment dwellers most occurred Monday when an elderly woman was raped and then shot in the mouth by a man who followed her into an apartment at midday. The woman is hospitalized.

She is in satisfactory condition at Surburban Hospital.

On Wednesday night, police arrested a 17-year-old Silver Spring youth as a suspect in the street robberies. And yesterday, police charged Elton Dexter, 26, of 1418 Somerset Pl. NW in connection with the Giberman robbery and an attempted robbery of a Maryland lottery office near the apartment complex.

Dexter formerly worked as a janitor at Rock Creek Gardens.

But despite the arrests, residents say the anxiety they experienced in the past few weeks won't just go away.

"It's really a very terrible thing when you don't feel safe in your own house," said one elderly retired woman who, like some of the other residents, would only talk to a reporter through her closed door. And like other residents, she said she was afraid to be identified.

A resident of the complex since it opened in 1947, the woman said, "I remember when I could go out for ice cream at 11 o'clock[at nigh] and do my laundry at six o'clock[in the mornings]."

Now, she said, she's afraid to open her door.

Some of the residents complained that the complex's new owners, LaVay Brothers, did not inform them of the crimes that were occurring in the neighborhood.

LaVay Brothers recently bought the 505-unit apartment complex and is converting it into condominiums that will be priced from $30,000 to $60,000.

Gerald LaVay said there was no effort to withhold information from the tenants. But "we certainly didn't want to alarm people," he said.