A District teenager was fatally shot yesterday morning in Northwest Washington, police said.

Authorities identified the victim as James Simms, 18, a student at Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School. Police said they found him about 9:45 a.m. in the driver's seat of a black Oldsmobile that had crashed into a car in the 500 block of Taylor Street NW.

Simms had been shot several times and died at Howard University Hospital, authorities said. He lived in the 500 block of Shepherd Street NW, near where police found him in the car.

Police said they were trying to determine where the shooting occurred.

They received reports of gunshots in the area where the car crashed and in the area of Quincy and 13th streets NW, about a half-mile away.

Authorities recovered shell casings in both locations and are investigating whether Simms had been engaged in a running gun battle, police said.

Police said that Simms did not own the Oldsmobile and that the license plates on the car were not registered to it. Investigators were trying to find its owner.

Authorities also stepped up patrols near Roosevelt High School and in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred.

Simms's relatives called him an upbeat 11th-grader who had lots of friends and a sharp sense of humor.

He dreamed of joining the military, they said.

"He was fun-loving," said his sister, Shanaya Simms, 21. "He was just silly and goofy."

Simms had recently been released from the District's Oak Hill juvenile detention facility in Anne Arundel County, according to a police official who requested anonymity because he cannot comment about active investigations.

Police said they were not sure exactly when he was released from Oak Hill or about the nature of the charges that led to his incarceration.

They said obtaining such information is difficult because of juvenile privacy laws.

LaShon Seastrunk, a spokeswoman from the D.C. Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services, said Simms was not under the agency's supervision.

Citing juvenile privacy laws, Seastrunk declined to say whether Simms had ever been under the agency's supervision or whether he had been confined at the agency's Oak Hill detention center.