A 13-year-old Suitland youth was arrested and charged with murder last night in a fatal shooting early yesterday in the parking lot of a Landover tavern, Prince George's police reported.

Witnesses told police that the shooting occurred after the victim, William Robert Hankerson, 19, of 2106 Orchard Pl., Landover, had struck and knocked to the ground another man.

While the man lay on the ground, witnesses said, a youth took a gun from the waistband of the man's trousers and shot Hankerson, who was pronounced dead a short time later.

The name of the youth who was arrested was not released because of his age. Police said he has been charged as a juvenile, and was being held last night at Boys' Village in Cheltenham.

They said Joseph Francis West, 46, of 4725 Huron Ave., Suitland, was also arrested and charged with carrying a deadly weapon.

Bystanders who saw the 12:55 a.m. shooting in the parking lot of Palmer's Lounge, 7724 George Palmer Hwy., told police that the youth apparently acted to defend the older man, who may be his father, in the fight.

Police spokesman Bob Law said authorities were having difficulty piecing together what happened because "people around the lounge became very scarce. They don't want to be involved."

According to investigators, Hankerson had fought earlier with an unidentified man in the parking lot. That fight broke up and the man left, but he returned a few minutes later with several other men, the youth and the older man among them, police said.

Hankerson punched the older man, police said, knocking him to the ground. The youth ran up and took the small-caliber gun from the waistband of the older man's pants and aimed it at Hankerson. Police said Hankerson was not armed.

"Hankerson saw the weapon, saw he was in trouble and ran," Law said.

The boy fired, hitting Hankerson in the middle of the back. Hankerson died at 2:30 a.m. at Prince George's General Hospital.

Hankerson, who had previously worked at a fast food restaurant, was unemployed. The ninth of 11 children, he lived with his mother, Ruby Hankerson, at 2106 Orchard Pl., Landover.

The mother, a domestic worker, said she saw her son about 3 p.m. yesterday when she left the house.

"He wasn't a bad boy," she said, crying. "I don't know of anybody who would've wanted to hurt him."

But John Oliverio, owner of Palmer's, a combination tavern and liquor store, said yesterday that he had barred Hankerson from the establishment about two months ago because of his behavior.

"He had a temper," Oliverio said. "He liked to fight."

Oliverio said the altercations occurred outside the lounge and that none of the participants had been his customers that night at Palmer's, a beige-and-brown building ablaze with liquor and beer advertisements on busy four-lane George Palmer Highway.