One man was killed and another was wounded in a shootout last night that left a trail of shell casings outside a church in Northwest where about 60 people were attending a prayer service.

One man was shot at least six times. He underwent surgery at Howard University Hospital and was pronounced dead at 12:24 a.m. today, a hospital spokeswoman said.

A second man was wounded in the thigh. Police said he and two men who drove him to Washington Hospital Center were arrested in connection with the shooting.

The names of the suspects and victims were not released.

The shooting began about 9:20 p.m. on Second and S streets NW, outside the Greater Little Ark Baptist Church in the Bloomingdale section.

Detectives found shell casings from more than one weapon in front of the church on S Street and on the sidewalk and in bushes along Second Street. One bullet had pierced the left rear tire of a church van.

The Rev. Clyde L. Hargraves Sr. said the corner has been a hotbed of drug activity for six months, despite repeated attempts by police and the community to keep dealers out.

"We put that sign up over there that says 'No Loitering,' but they still loiter," Hargraves said. "If {police} knock them off one corner, they move down the block. If {police} shake them down, they just show up later."

Hargraves and several worshipers said it was the first time gunshots had interrupted a church event. "These kind of things bring down and destroy the community," Hargraves said. "This is one of the things we didn't want to happen."