The reaction to a woman's screams at the Arlington Village condominium complex early yesterday was quick and decisive: About 40 residents in various stages of undress raced from their apartments and within moments a suspected assailant was wrestled to the ground, according to witnesses.

Arlington police who were called to the complex on S. Barth Street shortly after midnight to investigate a stabbing found that four of the residents had the suspect firmly in hand.

"Apparently they don't fool around down there," remarked police spokesman Thomas Bell, who noted that a month ago Arlington Village residents had captured a man suspected of raping a woman in her apartment there.

Police said that in yesterday's incident Carla Lagrassa, 27, had parked her car and was walking to her apartment when a man approached, demanded her keys and ordered her back to her car. A struggle ensured, police said, during which Lagrassa screamed, dropped her keys and was stabbed in the chest and back.

As the woman's alleged assailant started the car and attempted to drive away, dozens of residents -- many of them barefoot -- emerged from their apartments at high speed. The car stalled when it was driven over a curb, and its driver fled on foot. He was tackled once, but struggled free, then was brought down a second time and held for police, according to witnesses.

Lagrassa was listed in serious condition at Arlington Hospital, where she was being treated for a lacerated liver.

Her suspected assailant, Lemuel Chairborne Reese, 29, of the 1,000-block of S. Rolfe Street, Arlington, was held at the county jail on charged of malicious wounding, robbery and abduction.