As a part-time bouncer at the Hung Jury Pub in Northwest Washington, Daniel Edward Metcalf prided himself on calming rowdy patrons by talking and joking with them.

Usually, it worked.

But early yesterday, Metcalf's quick wit wasn't enough to stop three angry young men who started a fight in the club and were thrown out. Police said the men returned minutes later and one opened fire on Metcalf, shooting him in the abdomen. Metcalf, 31, the father of two, died seven hours later at George Washington University Hospital.

"What? He died? No!" screamed Nasser Abdalla, the club's manager. "No!"

Eric Ewell, 24, of the 9100 block of Yorkshire Lane in Manassas, and Jerome Hogan, of the 12000 block of Bunche Road in Fairfax, were arrested a short time after the shooting. A third suspect escaped. Ewell and Hogan could face charges of first-degree murder while armed, D.C. police said.

The shooting occurred at 2 a.m. at the club at 1819 H St. NW after Ewell, Hogan and the third suspect allegedly began arguing with other customers. Metcalf tried calming them, but it didn't work and he asked them to leave, Abdalla said. About 180 customers, most younger than 30, were in the club at the time, he said.

Abdalla said Metcalf escorted the men outside, where they continued arguing with Metcalf. "How can you kick me out?" Abdalla said one of the men asked Metcalf. "Do you know who I am?"

The young men went to a car, retrieved a handgun and returned and confronted Metcalf, police said. Several shots were fired, with at least one bullet hitting Metcalf, who yelled that he had been shot, Abdalla said. No one else was injured.

Several people flagged down 2nd Police District Officer Enoch Rogers, who was on scooter patrol. Rogers caught one of the men and turned him over to two other bouncers and club patrons, who restrained the suspect, police said. A U.S. Secret Service officer arrived on the scene, three blocks from the White House, and helped Rogers capture the second suspect.

The club is owned by Abdalla's brother, Mahmoud, and has been open for 19 years. The club serves lunch on weekdays and operates as a nightclub Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Abdalla said. Thursdays are hip-hop music night; the club attracts a lesbian clientele Fridays and Saturdays.

"In those 19 years, we've never had anything like this," Abdalla said. "Never."

Metcalf had worked at the club for about six months. He, along with two brothers, were hired as bouncers and were known by many of the patrons.

"He was a really nice guy," Abdalla said. "He was friends with everybody and made you laugh all the time. It's a sad story."