Five persons were arrested yesterday and charged with second- degree murder after three brothers and their cousin were shot, one fatally, during an argument on a Northeast Washington street Wednesday night, D.C. police reported.

Police sources said the four men, who were not armed, were shot about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday during an argument with a group that included at least two men and three youths, apparently over "a drug ripoff or some kind of drug-related problem."

After the shootings occurred on the street, three of the victims stumbled into a nearby fire station and a convenience store "spurting blood everywhere," according to a witness.

One of the brothers, Alton Clea, 23, 704 51st St. NE, was shot in the face and died at the scene of the shootings near North Capitol and R streets NE, in the midst of a well-known center of drug trafficking in the city, according to police.

Two of his brothers, Leon Clea, 22, who was shot in the chest, and Andre Clea, 18, who was shot in the foot, were listed in fair condition yesterday at Washington Hospital Center, a hospital spokesman said. They also live at the 51st Street NE address, police said.

Their cousin, identified by police as William Goins, 20, of 1803 Fourth St. NE, was listed in fair condition at the hospital, suffering from a gunshot wound to the face.

Police arrested Kevin F. Williams-Davis, 21, of 1820 Eighth St. NW, and Anthony T. Nugent, 19, of 57 R St. NE, and charged each with second-degree murder.

Three youths -- a 15-year-old from Northeast and a 16- and a 17-year-old from Northwest, whose names were not released because of their ages -- were also charged with second-degree murder, police said.

The shootings apparently stemmed from "some bad drug deals," sources familiar with the investigation said. They said an argument ensued near the intersection of North Capitol and R streets NE, during which at least two persons drew handguns and fired at the Clea brothers and Goins, who police said apparently were not armed.

David Clea, the eldest of the brothers, who was playing basketball in Maryland at the time of the shootings, said his brother Leon had been involved in an argument with a group of people earlier Wednesday night near the scene of the subsequent slaying. After the first altercation, he said, his three brothers and Goins went to the area to search for Leon's assailants.

Authorities first learned of the incident when Goins, shot in the face and with the bullet apparently lodged in his jaw, stumbled into the D.C. Fire Department's Engine Co. 12 at 1625 North Capitol St. NW, and told firefighters that two other wounded persons, Leon and Andre Clea, were across the street in Malik's Variety Store at 2 Quincy Place NE.

Alton Clea's body was found about two blocks north, lying on a sidewalk in the unit block of R Street NE, police said.

Early yesterday, 5th District police obtained a warrant and searched the nearby home of one of the juvenile suspects. Police sources said narcotics and about $15,000 in cash were found there.

David Clea said he and his younger brothers grew up on North Capitol Street near the site of the shootings.

"I wish I'd been there," David Clea said. "On previous occasions I've been there and have dealt with the situation so it didn't get to the point where physical contact was made. Nobody wants to go to jail. Nobody wants to get killed. But they let their hands do their talking," he said. " . . . This time I was just too late."