A 55-year-old Northeast Washington man was shot and killed in a restaurant near his home last night after he refused to yield his seat in a booth to another man who demanded it.

The victim, identified as Trudy Snow, was seated at a booth in Speed's Restaurant at 1374 H St. NE, when a man approached and asked him to move to another seat, according to one witness.

Snow "wouldn't move over," and after some discussion, the man pulled a gun from his pocket and "just shot him," according to the witness.

The assailant was not immediately identified and was still at large last night, police said.

Two electric fans were operating in an attempt to dispel some of last night's stifling heat and humidity when the assailant entered the restaurant about 9:45 p.m. according to Willie Mae Bland, who said she was the sister of the restaurant owner.

The small, store-front restaurant is located along the H Street corridor, which includes many struggling small businesses.

Some patrons were watching television and others were dancing to the sounds of the jukebox, when the man walked to the booth where Snow was nursing a soft drink and sitting with other patrons he apparently did not know, Bland said.

The new arrival "wanted him Snow to move," she said. She described Snow as an unobtrusive man who was known as "Shorty" and was "just as quiet as could be." He "didn't have much to say to anybody," she added.

But Snow, who had been first to take a seat in the booth, refused to move. And, as the discussion went on, Bland said, the man "just put his hand in his pocket and pulled the gun."

Police homicide investigators said Snow was shot once in the neck. Blood spattered the floor of the restaurant, Bland said, and most of the patrons left quickly. Snow, who lived at 226 14th Pl. NE, was taken to D.C. General Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:20 p.m.

A neighbor of Snow's described him as a former construction worker who was about 5 feet tall. The neighbor said Snow was a "very nice person" who lived with a brother and never involved himself in arguments.

Asserting that he had never heard Snow raise his voice, the acquaintance said "all the neighbors in the block are very close to him.

I've never known him to have any trouble with anybody."