The manager of a neighborhood pharmacy in Southeast Washington fatally shot a man yesterday evening after the man threatened the manager and a clerk and repeatedly smashed the cash register against the floor to get at its contents, D.C. police said.

Dewitt Turner of 450 51st St. SE was taken from the Fairfax Village Pharmacy, where the 5:50 p.m. shooting occurred, to D.C. General Hospital. Turner, who turned 33 yesterday, was pronounced dead shortly after 6 p.m., hospital officials said.

Although police said violent crime and drug activity are relatively light in the area, neighboring merchants expressed anxiety about their safety and voiced support for David Cohen, the manager of the pharmacy at 3827 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.

"I feel, hey, {Turner} got what he deserved," said Kevin Peek, a petty officer second class stationed at a nearby U.S. Navy recruiting station. Peek said merchants in the area, whom he described as tight-knit and supportive of one another, are "getting tired of people sticking them up and they're taking action. You get fed up out here, you just get tired of it."

Cohen was questioned at police headquarters by homicide investigators and released, police said.

No charges were filed, police said, and the case will be turned over to a grand jury. They said a knife was found with Turner at the scene and the handgun used in the shooting was held by investigators.

The pharmacy cashier, who said she has worked there for 16 years, said the incident began when Turner entered the store and asked her for a nickel in exchange for five pennies.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said that when she opened the cash drawer of the register, Turner lunged for the money. She said she slammed the register drawer shut and screamed to get Cohen's attention.

The cashier said the man then picked up the cash register and threw it on the floor in an apparent attempt to open the drawer.

She said that after she and Cohen approached the robber, he reached for a pocket "and we raised our hands and backed down the aisle."

The man then returned his attention to the cash register, seemingly becoming oblivious to the others present, she said, and smashed it on the floor about six times.

Meanwhile, Cohen ran to the rear of the store and returned with a handgun, the cashier said, and with the gun pointed at Turner ordered him to drop the register.

Turner reached for his pocket again, she said, and seemed to move toward Cohen from where he was crouched over the cash register. Cohen, about 10 feet away, fired a single shot that struck Turner.

Leon Cohen, the pharmacy owner and David Cohen's father, was filling prescriptions in the rear of the store at the time. He suffered chest pains that were attributed to the incident and was later taken to Greater Southeast Community Hospital, where he was listed in stable but guarded condition last night.

It was not known how long the gun had been kept in the store or whether the Cohens had a permit. Store owners in the District are allowed to keep firearms on their premises if the weapon is registered.

The shopping center where the Fairfax Village Pharmacy is located has a beauty parlor, a cleaning establishment, a record store and the Navy recruiting station among other shops, and word of the shooting spread rapidly among the other merchants.

Nina Robertson, manager of Nina's House of Style, a beauty parlor next door to the pharmacy, said she was so concerned by robberies in the area in the last year that the front doors of her shop are now kept locked and customers can gain entry only if "buzzed" in by her employes.

Alvin Fludd of Fludd's Barbershop added: "That pistol woke {the intruder} up." He said that when a would-be robber enters any business, "the police aren't going to catch it . . . . We've got to make an example out of somebody."

But police described the neighborhood as stable. "Usually, it's very quiet up there," Sgt. Robert Moss said. Police described the Fairfax Village area as a "pretty nice" middle-class neighborhood where most residences are single-family houses.

One 7th District investigator said that calls for assaults or robberies in the area are rare and that the danger for store owners is akin to the risks in other areas of the city.

"They're store owners and sometimes they get robbed," he said.