An escapee from a North Carolina prison was fatally shot during a gun battle with Prince George's County police yesterday after he fled from an apartment where he had been holding a woman at gunpoint, police officials said.

The dead man was identified as David W. McCain, 25, who had been sought by North Carolina authorities since his escape last July.Prince George's police said he had been serving a term of three to five years for assault with a dangerous weapon and inflicting serious injury.

Yesterday's shooting occurred about 1:30 p.m. after a woman resident at 2319 Brooks Dr. in Spaulding Heights flagged down a police cruiser and told two officiers that her sister was being held inside by a man with a gun.

As officers approached the apartment building McCain fled into nearby woods, and as they chased him he "opened fire with a small automatic handgun," police said.

The officers ordered him to halt, he fired once again and they shot back, wounding him, according to the police.

After a chase of about a quarter-mile, McCain jumped into a window well behind some bushes at 1922 Campbell Dr., police said.He was taken into custody there, and sent to Prince George's General Hospital where he was dead on arrival, authorities said.

The sister of the woman who was held captive yesterday had herself been kidnaped by the suspect last January, taken to Virginia and later freed, according to police. She and the escapee were acquaintances, police said, but they did not elaborate.