One of the young men played the drums, loved basketball and was the sort who would "give his shirt to a stranger if the stranger was in need," his mother said.

That was Javelle Poindexter, 20, who lived on Harvard Street NW and was applying to enter the Job Corps.

Poindexter and Antonio Alston, 19, were killed early yesterday by someone who apparently walked up to them a few minutes before 3 a.m. in the 1000 block of Harvard Street NW, authorities said.

Police said they did not know who shot them or why. Poindexter's mother, Jacqueline, also said she had no idea of any motive.

"It was a Saturday night. He was just hanging out, having a good time, not knowing something like this was going to happen," she said of her son.

"To my understanding, it was just a random shooting and he was also there," the mother said. She said that she and her son were close and that she believed he would have told her of any threats made against him.

She said she did not recognize the name of Alston, who lived on Keefer Place NW. Attempts to contact his relatives last night were unsuccessful.

Calling the killings tragic and shocking, D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who represents the area where they occurred, said he felt "sick at heart."

Jacqueline Poindexter said a doctor told her that her son may have been shot twice, with one of the bullets striking near the heart.

Alston was shot in the body more than once, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman.

Poindexter's mother said her son spent most of his early life in Montgomery County, where he attended Ashburton Elementary School in Bethesda, Tilden Middle School and Walter Johnson High School.

She recalled that when he was 2 years old, youths on a neighborhood playground, recognizing his attraction to their basketball, would halt their games to let him handle the ball.

When the family moved to the District two or three years ago, he attended Cardozo Senior High School and then a public charter school. Poindexter had three brothers and a sister, his mother said.

She said her son had taken an entry exam for the Job Corps and planned to go for an interview today. He was hoping to get training that would qualify him to be an electrician, she said.

He also was a drummer in a band that was "just trying to make it off the ground" and was a "loving, caring individual," she said. "I miss him. I miss him."

Graham said an increased police presence has been pledged for the area of the double shooting.