In what police said is the 42nd homicide in the District this year, a Northwest man died yesterday after he was shot several times while in a Southeast apartment with friends.

Police identified the man as Arturo Clair De Leon, 38, of 723 Tuckerman St. NW.

De Leon was in an apartment at 604 Mellon St. SE shortly after 2 a.m. yesterday with several other people when three or four men came to the door and were admitted into the apartment.

De Leon, who was not armed, spoke with the men. One of the men pulled a handgun and shot De Leon several times in the head and body, police said. No one else was injured.

Someone who was in the apartment with De Leon called police, as did neighbors who heard gunshots, police said. The men fled the apartment before police arrived.

De Leon was taken to D.C. General Hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead at 2:30 p.m.

Although police said they have not developed a firm motive in the case, one police official said it might be drug-related. Police said the witnesses in the apartment have provided them with a description of De Leon's assailants, but officials would not release details. No arrests have been made in the case.