Four men died yesterday in the District as a result of gunshot wounds or beating injuries, raising the number of people slain in the past week to nine, police said.

Yesterday's deaths increased the number of District homicides this year to 224, 28 more than the 196 slayings recorded last year.

Police said 21 persons have been killed this month. Two of the nine persons slain this past week were juveniles.

A 22-year-old Southeast Washington man was fatally shot yesterday after arguing with another man outside an apartment building, and a 59-year-old Northwest man was beaten to death in his apartment, police said.

Two other men died yesterday from beatings inflicted in the previous three days, police said.

"It's unreal," a homicide detective said last night. "Nobody anticipated numbers this high. It really leaves you at a loss. There's only so much you can do."

Detectives said the number of murders in recent weeks has hurt their ability to solve previous slayings.

"As soon as you get started on one, here comes another one, and everything gets slowed up," a homicide detective said.

In 1987, an average of 18 persons have been slain each month, detectives said, saying they were alarmed by the recent surge in homicides.

Police said they had no motives in the shooting yesterday of 22-year-old Darryl Gray, of the 3000 block of 13th Street SE, or in the beating death of 59-year-old Robert Speidel, who was found lying in his home in the 4800 block of 16th Street NW about 2 p.m.

Gray apparently had argued with another man outside an apartment building in the 3400 block of 13th Place SE, and was shot once in the chest, police said.

In addition, police said they had no motives or suspects in beatings that led to the other two deaths yesterday. Gary Bellamy, 29, address unknown, was beaten inside a homeless shelter on Maryland Avenue in Northeast Washington, homicide detectives said. James Henderson, 34, of the 200 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE, also died yesterday after he was found bound and beaten in his home.

Police said he was attacked by two assailants.

The two juveniles slain this past week, detective said, are 12-year-old Mark Settles, who was shot three times inside his Southeast home last Thursday, and 17-year-old Michael Clark, a New York resident who was shot eight times and found lying in an alley in Southwest near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.