A cabdriver pulled out a handgun and started firing at a Georgetown University employee on campus yesterday after the two scuffled during a minor traffic accident, D.C. police said.

Kenneth "Skip" Ames, 44, a supervisor at the university's Information Services, was in critical condition yesterday, authorities said, after being shot at least three times in the chest and abdomen at 8:20 a.m. in front of the Leavey Center parking garage near Tondorf Drive. The cabdriver fled, and police are searching for a black and orange Chevrolet Caprice station wagon with possible front-end damage, said 2nd District Cmdr. Shannon Cockett.

Campus police said this was the first shooting in recent memory, and students and staff expressed shock that there was gunfire within the confines of the university.

Police said one student saw the shooting and was being interviewed. The campus was quieter than usual yesterday since most students had left for winter break. Many of those who remained gathered in the morning for a brief prayer service at the Dahlgren Chapel, said Amy DeMaria, a university spokeswoman.

Ames, a university employee for nine years, lives in Northern Virginia and has a 10-year-old stepdaughter and two children from a previous marriage.

"He's very easygoing and very well-liked," said Christopher Peabody, Ames's supervisor at the university. "Nothing would ever have made us think that something like this would happen."

Ames's family and university President Leo O'Donovan, along with other school officials, gathered at the hospital yesterday as Ames underwent surgery.

Ames usually parks in the Leavey Center garage for his job; he supervises the installation of fiber-optic cables around campus.

Cockett said that about 8 a.m. there was a fender-bender between Ames's sport utility vehicle and a cab. The two drivers exchanged angry words, then the taxi driver pulled out a handgun and shot Ames, she said.

Ames, who was wounded in the chest and stomach, fell to the ground, and the cabdriver took off, police said. Ames was transported to Georgetown University Hospital, authorities said.

Cabdrivers, who gather every day to pick up students and professors at 37th and O streets near the site of the shooting, said that life is stressful right before the holidays and that they often argue among themselves about whom they are going to pick up and who gets the customers first.

However, the cabbies said, they have never have seen such extreme anger.

Anyone with information about the shooting should call 2nd District police at 202-282-0042 or CrimeSolvers at 1-800-673-2777.