A security guard shot three men outside a Northeast Washington nightclub early yesterday after an argument about a car that was parked the wrong way outside the busy place, D.C. police said.

The victims, including an off-duty D.C. police officer who was patronizing the club, remained hospitalized yesterday. Police later arrested a 50-year-old security guard who worked at the club on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

The shootings took place about 2:30 a.m. in front of the Dream nightclub at 1350 Okie St. NE, police said. It marked the third serious act of violence at a nightclub or tavern in the District during the past month.

Eight people suffered stab wounds during a melee Wednesday night at a downtown tavern. No arrests have been made in that case. On April 17, a 36-year-old man was beaten to death as he tried to patronize a tavern in Northwest. A bouncer at the tavern is charged with murder in the death.

The shooting at Dream -- a club that drew criticism last year when its management closed public streets without permission and improperly charged for parking -- quickly escalated from an argument to gunfire, said Cmdr. Jennifer Greene of the 5th District, citing a preliminary investigation.

The trouble began after an SUV was parked the wrong way on the street in front of Dream's entrance, police said. The driver began to argue with the club's security guards about moving it, police added.

As the argument continued, one of the guards, Carlton John Brown, pulled out a handgun and opened fire, police said.

The off-duty officer was walking nearby at the time of the shooting and was struck in the leg. The SUV's driver and a third person also were wounded, police said. One was hit in the abdomen, the other in the arm. Police did not release the victims' names because they are considered witnesses.

When the gunfire erupted, an officer on patrol down the street rushed to the scene, Greene said, but could not capture the gunman, who ran away.

Brown was arrested yesterday afternoon at his apartment in the 1300 block of Kenyon Street NW, police said. He was jailed pending a hearing tomorrow in D.C. Superior Court.

Dream, a massive nightclub with four floors, VIP rooms and a penthouse suite, often draws a stepped-up presence of police, who say they are battling continuing problems with auto thefts, thefts from cars and robberies when the business is open. On a typical night, Greene said, she deploys an extra 12 to 15 officers to the area.

The club's owner could not be located for comment yesterday.

D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5), who represents the area, said he has been pushing legislation that would allow club owners to hire the police department to provide security in public spaces around nightclubs.

He said that the District prohibits that practice but that such arrangements would reduce violence.