In response to Ruth Darmstadter's letter about the shooting of two alleged thieves by the Bethesda jeweler {Letters to the Weekly, Jan. 3}, I find it curious that she could "presume" her or anyone's reaction in that situation.

I could suggest a few locales where on a given evening she might invite an encounter rivaling that of jeweler Vahag Babayan. Afterward we would all benefit from Ruth Darmstadter's account of her reaction.

Mr. Babayan's jury of peers rightfully should have been limited to those citizens who have been victimized in a similar fashion. If something or someone were to violently confront us in that manner, I imagine many of us would respond immediately in a way somewhat counter to our respective philosophies on the subject. In retrospect, we might certainly regret the action as a possible overreaction.

In answer to Ruth Darmstadter's query about where the letters and columns about the shooting are, I submit that the general populace was satisfied with Mr. Babayan's acquittal.

I -- and I don't think I'm alone -- was outraged that a pair of convicted felons would have the audacity to enter Montgomery County and continue their assault on us. It is indeed sad that we have become inured to the inexorable dog-eat-dog goings on in certain parts of Washington, but we are fearful of the day when it spills out into our community. So even though we don't embrace vigilantism per se, we would as soon sweep this case under the proverbial rug in the interest of justice and the general welfare. The bad guys paid the ultimate price, and the message has been passed on to all potential perpetrators.

BILL SMITH Potomac