D.C. City Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) was beaten and knocked to the ground yesterday morning as she struggled with a robber outside her Northeast home.

Kicking her assailant and screaming "murder" and "help police, police" as the man beat her repeatedly about the head, Winter was able to alert neighbors, and about 20 persons rushed to her aid.

Three persons chased after Winter's attacker, but were unable to catch him as he ran down an alley with her purse.

Winter, 59, was able to drive herself to Capitol Hill Hospital, where she was treated for facial and head bruises and released. Winter's purse, with all its contents intact, was later found under a vacant house several blocks from her home, D.C. police reported.

They said two other purse-snatchings have been reported this month near Winter's home in the 1100 block of K Street NE, and that in both instances the victim was knocked to the ground. Police said they had no suspects in the assault on Winter.

"I didn't realize at first that he was trying to snatch my purse," Winter said during an interview shortly after she was released from the hospital. "I just thought it was someone beating me."

It was actually the second time Winter has been attacked and her purse stolen. The first assault occurred about two years ago in California, while she was attending a convention.

Winter, face swollen, told a reporter that the attack occurred shortly before 10 a.m. as she was leaving her home to go to a committee meeting at the District Building.

Walking to her car, which was parked at the rear of her home, Winter said someone began "pounding" her on the neck.

"I turned to look and he punched me in the face and kept beating and beating me," Winter said. "He hit me on the top of the head and kept punching me. He hit me in the face and knocked me on the ground and started pulling at my purse.

"I kicked him and my shoe went halfway across the alley. By then, I was yelling" the names of neighbors, Winter explained.

Leo Young was painting a nearby house when he heard Winter's call for help and ran into the alley and chased after her assailant.

He was joined by another painter and neighbor, Geneva Pheney, in a pursuit that covered about four blocks.

By the time police arrived a short time later, the robber had vanished.

Meanwhile, Winter had driven herself to the hospital, where she was visited in the emergency room by City Council Chairman David A. Clarke and Winter's sons, Reginald and Alan.

As she spoke several hours after the attack, Winter had high praise for her neighbors, who she said can always be counted on to look out for one another.

Winter said she was thankful she was not more seriously injured in the attack, and noted with a touch of humor, "He broke the strap on my new Gucci bag."