Those who were nearby told police there was no argument, just the shots fired on Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The gunman then fled south on 12th Street, past a rush-hour crowd of commuters heading home Thursday.

One of the bullets tore through the top of Kenneth W. Goshorn's red and white Mustang convertible, striking him in the back of the head and mortally wounding him. Just why it happened remains unclear, and police are still searching for the slayer and a motive.

The killing of Goshorn, 46, was so deeply upsetting that several of his closest friends were unable to deliver eulogies at a memorial service in Greenbelt that drew more than 200 people yesterday. Those who did speak painted a picture of a man who was an accomplished government labor lawyer with piercing intellect, a lover of bluegrass music, a sports fan whose passion for games of all sorts was astonishing.

"He was a tremendous storyteller, a raconteur. I've never known anybody who enjoyed life more than he did," said William Schulz, the managing editor of Reader's Digest, who met Goshorn in 1969.

Yesterday, police investigators said they are looking for a man in his late twenties last seen heading toward Potomac Gardens, a housing project on 12th Street south of Pennsylvania. Friends who have spoken with police said they were told that the assailant may have stood in front of Goshorn's car and refused to move. It is possible that this led to an exchange between the two that culminated when the gunman apparently went on the median strip and shot at the car from behind, they said.

Detective Edwin Treadwell, an investigator on the case, said witnesses did not see any confrontation. It is possible Goshorn exchanged words with the assailant, but at no point did he get out of his car and confront the man, Treadwell said.

Last night, a police official met with worried residents of the neighborhood where Goshorn was shot and told them that ballistics tests were being performed on a weapon that may have been used in the killing. But 1st District Capt. Robert Noyes told the approximately 70 people that he could reveal few other details of the investigation.

Goshorn, who was born in New York and grew up near Philadelphia, had just left his girlfriend's house nearby and was heading to her office on 18th and K streets NW. The two were going to see a production of "Unchanging Love" at the Studio Theatre, friends said.

Cynthia Shaughnessy waited in vain for him. It was hours later, after police had called Goshorn's roommate and news of an "accident" spread, that friends learned something was amiss.

On Friday, news spread to a network of Goshorn's friends here and on the West Coast. Many were bar-stool friends who gravitated to Goshorn and marveled at his insatiable appetite for sports of all kinds.

Before the service at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, it was that camaraderie that was remembered. One time in Sacramento, Calif., where he worked for the state and later for the federal government, Goshorn organized a boycott of a bar until it replaced its aging television with a state-of-the-art model.

He won a television contest that sought the true sports fan, and for a time even appeared as a 90-second sportscaster for a West Coast station. He was known to drag his friends to as many as three sporting events in one day.

Police urge anyone with information to call the crime-solvers line at 202-393-2222 or 1-800-673-2777. All calls will be confidential.