The Comfort Inn Hotel in Franconia was robbed yesterday and a desk clerk shot in the shoulder, Fairfax County police said.

It wasn't the first time the 6-month-old hotel had been robbed. Three times in the last three weeks, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt has walked into the lobby of the hotel, brandished a pistol and walked off with all the available cash, according to police.

The common method of the robberies led police to believe that the same person committed all three, they said.

Twice the man has used a chrome-plated revolver; twice he has vaulted the front desk in the hotel's lobby; once he put a gun to the temple of a clerk, and once he told a clerk he was going to kill her, police said.

In yesterday's robbery, the 20-year-old clerk was shot after he had handed over the cash, "for no apparent reason and without apparent provocation," according to police spokesman Warren Carmichael.

The clerk, whom police declined to identify, was nicked by a bullet in the right shoulder, but was not seriously injured, police officials said.

A different desk clerk has been on duty each time the hotel has been robbed, police said. The other robberies occurred on Jan. 2 and Jan. 19, police said.

The nine-story, 194-room hotel at 5716 S. Van Dorn St. is part of the Quality Inn chain. Manager H. Michael Weiner declined to answer questions about the robberies or about any security measures the hotel might have instituted.