A 71-year-old woman who had been shot was found dead yesterday in her home in rural upper Montgomery County, where police said they found signs of a break-in and a possible robbery attempt.

Two men were taken into custody shortly after the discovery, but formal charges had not been filed by late last night.

Police identified the victim as Louise Shoemaker, of Darnestown Road in Beallsville, which is north of Poolesville in Montgomery's northwest corner.

They said a relative of Shoemaker's went to her house about 2 p.m. yesterday and found her dead in the master bedroom.

Investigators said a large glass panel in a rear door had been smashed out with a rock, permitting entry into the house.

They said Shoemaker had been shot, and some items in the house had been disturbed. However, they said they did not know if anything was missing.

It was not immediately clear when Shoemaker had died. Relatives had last spoken to her Thursday, police said.

Police said in a statement issued last night that after investigating, they decided to question a Beallsville man in his twenties who they said was acquainted with the victim and her family.

They said a lookout was issued and the man's red Toyota truck was spotted by police about 4 p.m. on Cattail Road. They said the man was taken into custody along with a second man who was in the truck.

One of the neighbors said area residents "were amazed" by the report of Shoemaker's death. "It was absolutely just horrible," said Edward L. Stock Jr. "She was an excellent, good neighbor and a really nice person."

The neighbors said Shoemaker, a widow, had lived for at least a dozen years in her brick and stone rambler, which she and her husband built after selling a farm and retiring from a family landscaping business.