A 32-year-old Columbia man was stabbed to death in Georgetown yesterday morning during a fight, D.C. police reported.

The killing of Keith M. Watson on M Street about 3 a.m. was a rare homicide in Georgetown. Even in the early-morning hours in the busy drinking, dining and entertainment district centered at Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW, "we don't really get that many altercations," said Michael Fowler, manager of Nathan's, one of the most prominent Georgetown restaurants. "It's a pretty safe area."

According to Sgt. Joe Gentile, a spokesman for the D.C. police, yesterday morning's fatal fight was touched off when two groups encountered each other on the street and "one group literally bumped into another."

He said a man in one of the groups drew a knife and stabbed Watson, who was in the other group, once in the body. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 5:30 a.m.

Watson lived on Gracious End Court. Relatives could not be located yesterday.

Police said they were looking for a black man about 25 to 30 years old, 5 feet 9, with a medium build and light complexion, wearing dark trousers, a black T-shirt and a gold chain around his neck.

Bars are required to close by 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, sending many patrons into the streets on their way home. Bar managers said business typically declines during the summer.

In another homicide yesterday, Harry Baker IV, 28, of Fairmount Heights was shot about 3 a.m. near 10th Street and Maryland Avenue NE, in the Capitol Hill area, police said.

They said he flagged down a passing motorist who took him to Howard University Hospital. He died 30 minutes later.

Homicide is down citywide this year, on a pace that would result in fewer than 200 killings for the first time since 1986.

The largest number of homicides in the 2nd Police District, which includes Georgetown, in any year since 1993 was five, in 1996 and 1997. Before yesterday, the figure for this year was two.

Staff writers Clarence Williams and Bill Broadway contributed to this report.