After the first two shots rang out yesterday afternoon, the woman looked out the window of the T Street Market and saw the rest: A man wearing a black coat and a black hat fired one more time, then again, then again.
The victim, a neighborhood man she knew by the nickname Bay, dropped the receiver from the pay telephone and sank to the ground. The assailant, who had shot from a distance of less than 10 feet, turned and ran through an alley at the side of the market, heading south toward Seaton Place NW.
"When I came out, he was mumbling. I don't know if he was mumbling or moaning. He was moving a finger. He was trying to say something," said the woman, who is 26 and lives in the neighborhood, around T Street NW, near North Capitol Street. "I was afraid to get near him."
Police said Felman Maurice Hampton, 26, of the 1900 block of T Street NW, had been shot several times in the head and torso. He died by the telephone shortly after the 1:30 p.m. shooting, and over the next hour, a drama slowly unfolded before some 75 onlookers as word of the death spread to friends and relatives who live nearby.
A group of young men, all somber, stood on a stoop and looked down at the body, which was being examined by homicide investigators. A woman, tears in her eyes, said people were getting shot just for "looking at someone wrong."
At one point, the young men walked away, crossed the street and headed toward Rhode Island Avenue. One of them, in his teens, put his arm around the arm of another.
A short time later, a relative showed up and was quickly rushed away by other people, who placed her in a waiting Acura Legend parked on Rhode Island. And then the victim's sister, a woman in her twenties, rushed under the yellow police tape and up to the D.C. medical examiner's van. Almost hysterical, the woman was held back by police and led away by two other women.
It was the second time violence had struck the Hampton family. In October 1989, Hampton's sister, Wanda R. Hampton was shot in the face and killed as she walked at Eighth and T streets NW, seven blocks from yesterday's shooting. Like her brother, Wanda Hampton, 23, was killed in broad daylight: at 3:30 in the afternoon.
"When is it going to stop? When is it going to stop?" asked Beulah Mitchell, 48, a resident of Seaton Place, a block away from the shooting. "I guess never," she said, answering her own question. "In broad daylight. Something has to be done. Jesus, have mercy."
Police said there are no motives or suspects.
The woman who saw the shooting, one of several questioned by investigators, said the victim had lived in the area and had moved away, but still spent time visiting his old neighborhood.
She said police questioned her about a red car, possibly a getaway car. But she insisted the assailant was on foot. She said she was unable to see his face.
The woman had just finished using one of two telephones in front of the store.
"Bay," as she called to the victim, had come out of the store and greeted her with a "what's up, babe?"
Standing on the same spot almost two hours after the shooting, the woman was plainly shaken. The owners of the market had washed away the blood with warm water and then sprinkled salt on the spot.
"The dude just came out of the alley and shot him and went back through the alley . . . . Even after he fell," she said of the victim, "he was still shooting."