Nearly three years after Michael Steven Snoots moved into his Bowie home, his father arrived on his front lawn with a shotgun in his hand, angry enough to pull the trigger.

The elder Snoots broke into his son's house and shot him and his daughter-in-law with two blasts late Sunday night, Prince George's County police said.

Michael Snoots Jr., 32, grabbed a gun and returned fire, according to police. The father died at the scene, in a normally quiet neighborhood of single-family homes near Bowie's historic district. The son and his wife survived the attack.

Police said they do not know what sparked the gunfight, or whether Michael Snoots Sr., 56, was killed with his own gun.

They do know that the elder Snoots had come from Murfreesboro, Tenn., where he lives.

Neither the Snootses nor friends who were at their white-and-brown two-story home yesterday would speak about what happened.

Neighbors in the 8000 block of Chestnut Avenue said they heard three loud blasts about 11 p.m. Sunday. Marvin Gantt, who lives directly across the street from the Snootses, said he was getting into bed when he heard the shots.

"I thought it was somebody throwing firecrackers, one of those large ones," Gantt, 62, said. "It echoed all through here."

Gantt's wife, Felicia, 54, said she saw the younger Snoots and his wife being taken out of the house shortly after she heard the shots. Snoots had blood on his leg, and his wife was wearing an oxygen mask, she said.

"They are real nice people," said Felicia Grantt, who added that Snoots, his wife and another adult male live in the house.

Marvin Gantt said the area is normally quiet, with the biggest problem in the community being cars that speed on the narrow street separating his house from the Snootses'.

"It really shocked us that somebody was killed here," Gantt said. "We've not had something like that here -- not on this street, not in this part of town."

Ramon Korinoff, spokesman for State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, said prosecutors are investigating whether to file criminal charges in the case.

The shooting is the second homicide this year in Bowie, which typically averages about one killing every other year. On June 1, Stacey Seaton was fatally shot as she walked on a path in a Bowie Forest park about 200 yards from her home. The case has not been solved.

The latest homicide is reinvigorating debate over whether the city should form its own police department. Next month, voters will decide whether to create a $7.1 million, 57-member police force. Bowie is one of the few incorporated cities in Prince George's that does not have a municipal department.

The movement started when some residents became frustrated with what they perceive as scarce police presence on the streets and slow response times when they call police for help.

Felicia Gantt said police responded quickly to the gunshots Sunday night but took more than half an hour to arrive a few weeks ago when her garage was broken into. She supports creation of the city department.