The president of the Young Dillingers, a street gang that has vowed to fight crime and drug sales in the District, was critically wounded last night when he was shot several times, apparently as he tried to clear drug dealers from the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest Washington.

D.C. police said Norman E. Pannell, 28, a cofounder of the Young Dillingers organization, was shot several times in the arms and chest about 8:30 p.m. He was listed in critical condition last night at Howard University Hospital.

Police said Pannell was first shot in an alley in the 1900 block of Ninth Street NW by an assailant who then chased him on foot two blocks to Florida and Georgia avenues, where Pannell collapsed and was shot again.

Police said no arrest had been made in the incident, and they are uncertain of the motive.

Robert Merritt, director of the Young Dillingers, said last night that Pannell had gone to Shaw with another member of the group to try to discourage drug trafficking in the area, which was described in a story Monday in The Washington Post.

Merritt said the other member told him that Pannell was shot after he saw some men "selling PCP to a youngster, and he asked them to get out of the area."

The Young Dillingers, a once violence-prone gang that now says it is an anticrime organization similar to New York City's Guardian Angels, has taken an increased interest in ridding the District's streets of drug dealers, Merritt said.

He pledged that the Young Dillingers will continue to take aggressive measures to combat drug trafficking in Shaw.