The man who walked into Murry's grocery store in Northeast Washington just after 7 p.m. yesterday wasted no time.

According to police, the man approached the store manager and pulled a .357 magnum, saying, "You know what this is." But as he tried to take the manager to the back of the store, two plainclothes D.C. police officers, staking out the business in anticipation of a robbery, jumped out of a back room, identified themselves and ordered the man to drop the gun, officials said.

Instead, the man turned and pointed his gun at the officers, each of whom shot once, said Lt. Reginald Smith, a police spokesman. The man was shot at least once and died at the scene. Police said that there was only one customer in the store at the time and that no one else was injured.

The showdown occurred at 2305 Benning Rd. NE, in a store that had been held up twice in the past month by a robber using a similar method, police said. Police had been staking out the store for three days because they had received information that another robbery would be tried there, said Lt. James Boteler.

The 26-year-old man who was killed was not further identified pending notification of relatives, but police said he lived in the area.

Boteler said that the man was a suspect in robberies at Murry's on Sept. 27 and Oct. 10, and that detectives are investigating whether he was linked to robberies that have plagued other businesses in the area in recent weeks.

The two plainclothes officers, both from the 5th District, were identified as Derek Bell and Otha Holden.

Police said it was not known which of the officers hit the man.

Afterward, about 70 people gathered outside. The mothers of two teenage employees who were in the store at the time of the shooting waited outside as detectives interviewed their sons.

"I can't make him quit {his job}, but I hope he doesn't come back here to work anymore," said one of the women, who declined to give her name.

The other mother was more adamant. "This is it. He won't be working here any more," said the woman, who asked not to be identified. She said she would prefer that her son work in a mall with security guards. Murry's employees declined to comment.

The second woman said her son started working at the store just before the Sept. 27 robbery. After the Oct. 10 robbery, he was having second thoughts about working there, she said. "He wasn't going to come back, but they started closing the store earlier," she said.