At about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Vincent Alexander Dark left his uncle's apartment in Southwest Washington, saying he was tired after working all day at his construction job and wanted to go home, soak his feet and go to bed. He told his uncle he would call him at 5 the next morning, when they both had to get up for work.

But Dark apparently never carried out his plans. Instead, sometime during the evening he joined company with Marvin C. Wilson, who police said was driving a stolen car. When D.C. police tried to stop the car about 1 a.m., officers said later, Wilson and Dark sped off.

By the time it was over, Dark was dead of a gunshot wound and so was D.C. Officer Robert Best. Police say it was Dark who killed Best.

Dark, 27, was paroled in September after serving 16 months at Lorton Reformatory for robbery and carrying a pistol. He was working for a construction company in Southeast Washington and saving his money to open an aquarium shop with a friend, his family and friends said yesterday. That is why, they said, news of his death and the circumstances surrounding it came as such a shock.

"He wasn't about guns anymore. It was a gun that got him in trouble in the first place," Dark's sister, Elaine Welcher, said yesterday, as dozens of grieving relatives and family friends gathered in the Dark family's Douglass Road SE apartment.

Welcher, a budget analyst at D.C. General Hospital, said Dark talked often of how he "was never going to go back to a penitentiary." Dark, who had five brothers and three sisters, concerned himself mostly with his family since his release from prison, his relatives said, especially his two daughters, both 7.

They said they couldn't understand what Dark was doing in a stolen car when he had a car of his own, a 1977 Cadillac.

Dark had attended Logan Elementary School and Stuart Junior High School, but dropped out of Spingarn High School's night school program to go to work. "He really liked clothes and he wanted more than I could give him, so he went to work," recalled his mother, Marian, a housekeeper at the main Post Office in Washington.

Dark said her son had held a variety of jobs since high school, including post office custodian and construction worker.

Dark's first arrest was in 1977, when he was picked up on a drug charge, according to police records. The disposition of that charge could not be determined yesterday.

In 1978, he was convicted of robbery, given a suspended sentence and placed on a four-year probation, according to court records.

In 1980, he was convicted of robbery and carrying pistol and sentenced to two to 10 years, according to the District's chief probation officer, Elias Kibler.

Kibler said Dark had just visited his parole officer last week and seemed to be doing well.