A young immigrant locksmith was fatally shot yesterday afternoon in Southeast Washington as he tried to help a robbery victim get into his car after the keys had been stolen, D.C. police said.

Ehud Raich, 25, was assisting the car owner in the 4600 block of G Street SE, near Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, just before 12:30 p.m. when a gunman approached on foot and fired once, striking Raich in the neck, police said. The shooter then jumped into a dark-colored car occupied by one person and fled.

Raich, an Israeli native who lived in Arlington, was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Prince George's Hospital Center, police said. An Israeli Embassy spokesman said D.C. police had notified the embassy of the death but declined to comment further.

Police said the man Raich was helping was a District resident who had been robbed Saturday night at the same location by two men who took his cash and keys. The robbery victim's house -- which is not on G Street SE -- was later burglarized, police said.

Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman, said investigators were looking into the possibility that the gunman was involved in the Saturday robbery in the Benning Terrace area, which in recent months has been plagued by crashes involving youths driving stolen cars.

Police officials said last night that it was unclear whom the intended victim was.

"The motive is under investigation," Gentile said.

Parishioners came upon the scene after worshiping at Jones Memorial.

"This is just not acceptable,'' the Rev. Loretta Johnson told WTTG-TV (Channel 5). "We've had murder after accident after shooting. Every other week, there's a crisis.''

Little information about Raich was immediately available.

Kimberly Jelassi, a neighbor, said that Raich and a friend, another Israeli, had moved into a small apartment building in the Crystal City area in January.

"They were very polite,'' she said. "They'd say, 'Hello, how are you?' They were very quiet."

Police issued a lookout for the gunman, who they said was a light-skinned African American in his early 20s, 160 to 180 pounds, who was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about the case was urged to call the D.C. police at 202-727-9099.

Staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.