ST. LOUIS, SEPT. 5 -- Five employes of a supermarket were killed and two others injured Friday night when two armed men opened fire after herding the employes into a high-walled customer service area during a robbery an hour after the store closed.

Two employes of the National Supermarket store, working in a back room, escaped by climbing onto the roof, police said.

The robbers entered the store shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, according to Capt. Charles McCrary, who is heading a 17-officer investigating squad.

"Possibly the security guard may have let them in thinking they were cleaners," McCrary said. He said the men held the seven employes at gunpoint near the service desk at the front of the store and took an undetermined amount of cash.

"Then they were all directed to lie down on the floor and they were shot," McCrary said.

Four of the victims died at the scene. A fifth died a short time later at a nearby hospital, McCrary said. They were identified as Rose Brown, 49, head cashier; Kenneth Bass, 27, a cleaning man; Michael Beam, 34, a stock manager; Michael Marr, 16, a bag boy; and David Spahn, 27, a security guard.

The assistant store manager, Harold Meyer, 30, and Richard Fortson, 32, a service manager, also were shot. Meyer was hospitalized in critical but stable condition and Fortson in serious but stable condition, according to police.

The store, a large, modern supermarket in what police described as a high-crime neighborhood north of downtown, remained closed today.

Joyce Mack said she was attending services at the Kossuth Church of God in Christ behind the grocery store when the shootings occurred.

"We didn't hear anything," she said. "It's a quiet little store. Everybody in there was friendly . . . . I've heard of purse snatchings, but never known it to be robbed."

"I've come up here at night and shopped by myself and nothing ever happened," said Johnnie Faulkner, who lives in the neighborhood.

Based on interviews with the survivors and workers who climbed onto the roof, police issued partial descriptions of the robbers and of two cars that may have been involved, McCrary said.