The shooting at a carryout selling Chinese food in Northeast Washington Monday night occurred after two employees, wielding sticks, tried to end a disturbance by chasing a man off the premises, one victim said yesterday.

Three employees and a customer were wounded when a second man opened the door of the Taijiang Carry-Out in the 1000 block of Bladensburg Road NE and fired several shots from the street, police said.

The wounded were taken to area hospitals and treated for leg injuries. All but the customer, who was listed in stable condition at Howard University Hospital, were released.

Police later questioned a man who was shot in the hand and was described by witnesses as the person who began the argument in the store.

The man denied being in the store, and told detectives he was the victim of a robbery, police said. No one has been arrested.

The customer, who was shot in the thigh and asked that his name not be used, said the owners of the store got into a heated argument with a drunken man. Two employees, apparently trying to force the man from the store, appeared with sticks.

"Just in that split second, the other guy pushed the door open and started shooting inside," said the customer, who is 43. "That happened so fast. The next thing I knew, I was shot myself."

Store workers said the argument began when a man, who appeared to be drunk, got upset because he did not have enough money to pay for beer and food.

At one point, he tried to force a door leading to the store's secured counter area, which is behind Plexiglas.