A housekeeper at Catholic University was shot and killed yesterday by a former part-time employee who confronted her outside a campus dormitory, police said.

The shooting, which occurred about 3:15 p.m., was seen by more than a half-dozen students, some of whom sobbed in front of the dormitory or stared out its windows in shock as investigators converged on the scene.

In a statement, the university said the shooting was "a result of a personal matter" between the woman, a housekeeping employee identified as Jean Gassaway, 42, and a former temporary employee, Clifton McNeal, 51.

A sobbing student, who was consoled by friends and then quickly ushered into the dormitory, told a classmate that the woman pleaded "please don't, please don't" before being shot.

Gassaway, of the 500 block of 12th Street NE, was carrying what appeared to be a grocery bag and wearing the blue shirt usually worn by housekeeping employees at the school.

McNeal was arrested by a Metro police officer patroling the parking lot of the Brookland Station, which is at the rear of the dormitory. The suspect, who lives in the 4500 block of Benning Road SE, was charged with first-degree murder while armed.

The shooting took place in the rear parking lot of Conaty Hall, a four-story dormitory for women students on Monroe Street near Michigan Avenue. University officials, including Dean of Students Kate McCloskey and a priest, went to the dormitory to comfort the students.

Residents in Gassaway's neighborhood said yesterday that the woman had lived on the block on-and-off for about 30 years, and was currently living with her two daughters and her mother.

One neighbor, who asked not to be identified, described Gassaway as a quiet, hard-working woman who was "a very nice person. She always had a smile."

The same neighbor said Gassaway was well-known around the block, and described the neighborhood as "shocked. Everybody is so upset about it."