Detectives were back on Third Street in Northwest Washington yesterday, knocking on doors, hoping to learn something new about the gunshot that cut short a Howard University law student's life last week.

Elton Pierre, 24, was walking to visit a friend in the 1700 block of that street Thursday night when he was shot once in the chest. He was taken to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival, police said.

Pierre had just finished his second year at Howard University's Law School, which, like much of the campus in the District, was quiet yesterday because spring semester classes have ended.

Pierre, his friends said, was a well-liked student who organized a basketball tournament, was working this summer at the Environmental Protection Agency and was known for his passionate arguments on civil rights issues.

He had his student identification with him when he was killed, one police officer said. Friends said they understood that he was going to visit a friend and watch a game on television. Another student he had asked to go with him decided not to go.

One of the detectives at the scene yesterday said the motive in the killing is "still wide open."

Pierre's family came to Washington from his home in Maplewood, N.J., for a day to meet with police and returned home yesterday to make funeral arrangements, one of his friends said. They could not be reached for comment.

Because classes have ended and school has been out for a while, some of his Howard classmates who were still around the campus said they had not heard about his death. But one student, Charles Hasbury Jr., said he expects students to plan a memorial service when they return to school in the fall.