An Alexandria businesswoman was found shot fatally in the back yesterday in an apparent robbery at her optical shop in downtown Alexandria.

Police said Carol Ann Dodd, 35, the owner of Brahm Opticians, at 215 N. Washington St., was pronounced dead on arrival at Alexandria Hospital shortly after the 2 p.m. shooting. Dodd was found after an employe of an adjoining shop called police after hearing a gunshot.

Late last night, neighbors in the area of the shopping district and in the Del Ray neighborhood where Dodd had lived with her parents since childhood were stunned by the slaying.

It's hurting," said Charlie Dodd, the victim's father. Dodd said his daughter began working at Brahm Opticians in 1963 after graduating from optical school. She purchased the shop in 1970, he said, and later opened another optical shop at the Seminary Medical Center on Kenmore Avenue.

Dodd said his daughter was devoutly religious and attended St. Mary's Catholic Church every day.

Dodd, who was single and lived at homw with her parents, was described by neighbors as a quiet-spoken, religious woman who was committed to her parents and the church. Neighbors said she delighted in working in the back-yard garden with her father and playing with her dog, Toughie. She also owned a horse.

"She would never give anybody a reason to be her enemy," said Kathy Nelson, a next-door neighbor. "She was always so polite." Nelson said Dodd also took her parents to dinner every Friday evening.

A neighbor who has lived across the street from Brahm Opticians for 45 years said the slaying is the first to have occurred in the neighborhood to her knowledge.

"That is just awful," she said, asking that her name not be used. "It makes me a little fearful to think they killed somebody right across the street."