Four youths on bicycles were arrested yesterday after shooting a pellet gun at pedestrians in downtown Washington, striking at least two of them in the face.

The two people who were known to have been struck by pellets were not seriously injured. Police believe several others may also have been hit but either left the scene before police arrived or chose not to file a complaint.

The four youths were apprehended after a half-hour search by police, which ended in the 1200 block of Delaware Avenue SW, near the suspects' homes. Their exact ages were not immediately available, but one police officer said they ranged from 12 to 14 years old.

The four were charged with assault with a deadly weapon, police said.

The incident began shortly after 5:30 p.m., when the youths fired pellets at two women on Constitution Avenue NW, police said. The youths rode to Maryland Avenue, where they shot at people at Sixth Street and Maryland Avenue SW, police said. It was not clear whether the youths struck anyone there.

Shortly afterward, a man complained to Harbor Police that the youths had shot at him too, but he did not file a complaint with police.

Meanwhile, officers searched for the four bicyclists, who finally were spotted in the 1200 block of Delaware Avenue by a police helicopter. A pellet gun was found in a trash bin in the 200 block of N Street SW, police said.

Police said they don't know what motivated the youths. "Just four kids riding around, shooting at people," a police official said shortly after the youths were arrested.