An employee of a Northeast Washington motel was shot last night by one of three men who got away with an undetermined amount of money, District police said.

Three other people in the lobby, including the motel's manager, were not injured in the incident, which occurred about 8 p.m. at the Days Inn, a 195-room motel in the 2700 block of New York Avenue NE.

The shooting victim, who was not identified, was in surgery at Washington Hospital Center late last night. His condition was listed as stable.

A Clinton man who was in the lobby when the men came in said the three loitered near the door for several minutes before two of them went in a restaurant connected to the lobby. The witness said the third man appeared to be walking to a restroom near the front desk when he suddenly turned, went behind the desk and pulled a gun on the manager and another employee.

The two other men then burst into the lobby, said the witness, and one of them ordered him to lie on the floor. "It just happened so fast," said the witness, who asked not to be identified. "I thought these guys were kidding when they told me to lie down on my stomach . . . . I lay down and saw this long, silver gun in his hand."

The witness said he heard the man behind the front desk demand money, then heard a single shot. The suspects fled after a man came into the lobby, surveyed the scene and ran out, the witness said.

Police closed the motel for about two hours and took fingerprints from two pay telephones and a cigarette machine in the lobby that the suspects were seen using.

A British couple staying at the motel who had just returned from a day of sightseeing said police asked them to wait in a restaurant while they investigated. "This is sort of a fitting end to our visit to this country filled with guns," the British woman said.