A 53-year-old man was shot yesterday morning outside a home for senior citizens in Southeast Washington in a slaying that appears drug-related, police said.

The man, whose identity was not released, was one of three people slain in the city yesterday. Police also were investigating the fatal shootings of a man and a woman whose bodies were found in a house in Northeast Washington yesterday afternoon.

The killing in Southeast took place in the Wheeler Creek development. Police said the victim appeared to be buying drugs at Varney Street and Wheeler Road about 7 a.m. when he got into an argument with at least one other man.

The other man pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and fired, hitting the 53-year-old, police said.

The victim ran around the corner and was shot again by the gunman in front of the senior citizens home at 900 Varney St., police said. No one else was hurt.

The victim was taken to Howard University Hospital, where he died. The gunman escaped before officers arrived, police said.

Commanders said they were stepping up patrols in the neighborhood and taking other measures to uncover information about the shooting and to prevent retaliatory violence.

Residents expressed surprise at the daylight shooting in Wheeler Creek, a development of owner-occupied homes and rental units that was constructed several years ago.

It replaced the Valley Green public housing complex, a blighted area known for gunfire and drug dealing.

"Our neighborhood is so peaceful," said Sallie Goodwin, 40, who has lived in the development since it opened four years ago. "After 8:30 at night, you can hear a pin drop. It's just quiet. There are no problems."

Since Wheeler Creek was built, the neighborhood's biggest problems have involved youths gathering on street corners, vandalism and thefts from cars, the residents and others said.

"I haven't heard too much about serious crime here," said Michelle Butler, an administrative assistant with the Wheeler Creek Estates Community Development Corp., a nonprofit organization that runs the development. "The neighborhood has come a long way."

Homicide detectives later were called to the 200 block of 53rd Street NE, where the bodies of a man and a woman were found in a duplex.

Detectives said the victims were discovered by a relative who visited the house to check on them. Last night, police identified the woman as Tiffany Jefferson, 26, of the 200 block of 53rd Street NE. The man's name had not been released. Police said Jefferson was the cousin of a veteran D.C. homicide detective, Willie Jefferson, who helped notify her relatives.

The District has recorded six homicides in the last four days, pushing the city's homicide total for the year to 97. Despite the recent surge, the District is on pace to finish the year with fewer than 200 annual homicides for the first time since 1986.

Police said they were offering a reward of as much as $25,000 for information leading to arrests and convictions in the three slayings.