Residents along Kennedy Street NW, near where Marcia Williams was killed by a stray bullet, say their neighborhood is beseiged by crack dealers, many of whom grew up together as friends but who were torn apart by competition for control of drug markets operating only blocks apart.

D.C. police said it was young men who grew up in the neighborhood and still call it home who are responsible for the Tuesday night shooting of Williams, 29, who was driving with her three children near Kennedy and North Capitol streets.

Police said three more young men were arrested yesterday in connection with Williams's slaying, for a total of four. One, according to police, was an intended victim in a 1989 shootout near Kennedy Street in which another innocent bystander was hit by gunfire.

The first suspect to be arrested on Wednesday was George William Jeffries, 21, who officials said had been placed on parole from the D.C. Department of Corrections a month ago, after a conviction on drug charges. When he was arrested, officers found a loaded .32-caliber handgun.

All four suspects live near Seventh and Jefferson streets NW, a block south of the Kennedy Street strip. A relative of one of the men described them as "a loosely knit group of guys who hung out together."

The four men live in a neighborhood that is home to many retired government workers, some of whom have lived in the 70-year-old row houses for more than 25 years. For most of that time, residents said, the largely middle-class area -- sandwiched between North Capitol Street and Georgia Avenue -- was quiet and peaceful.

But now every few days, they said, gunfire sends them scurrying inside their homes for cover. Shooting victims sometimes block the sidewalks to their doors. And they avoid walking or driving along certain blocks that have developed into thriving drug markets -- despite a heavy police presence.

"If they ever get the drugs out, it would be an ideal place to live," said Martha Herbert, who lives in the 5400 block of Seventh Street NW.

Police sources said that a drug turf battle was the cause of the shooting Tuesday night that ended the life of Williams, a native of Panama. Williams was returning to her home in Prince George's County about 7:30 p.m. after visiting her mother in the District's Takoma section, police said, when she was hit by gunfire intended for occupants of another car.

Vada Manager, a spokesman for Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon, said the city would pay for Williams's funeral and make city psychologists available to counsel her children.

At Jeffries's presentment hearing yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Jackson said Jeffries told police he was driving a blue station wagon when he and his companions spotted a Mercury Merkur and someone yelled, "There they are. Let's go get 'em." Jackson said Jeffries told police he made a U-turn, and the shooting began.

The Merkur had three occupants, and neighbors said one of them is an old friend of Jeffries's. A feud recently developed between Jeffries's friends and that old friend. Police sources said the feud was over drug turf, and a relative of Jeffries's said it was over money.

All the men arrested are neighborhood friends, residents and family members said.

Jeffries was charged with felony murder on Wednesday. He had been paroled June 13 after serving about 18 months of a five-year sentence for possession with intent to sell cocaine on Kennedy Street, according to court records.

The next two arrested are brothers: Dwight D. Davis, 21, and Garnett Davis, 18, both of the 5400 block of Seventh Street. They were arrested at an apartment complex in the 2200 block of Phelps Drive in Adelphi about 8:45 a.m., police said. In Dwight Davis's car, a D.C. police spokesman said, officers found three handguns and some crack cocaine.

Dwight Davis, police said, was wounded in the thigh in a June 1989 shooting rampage in the 5300 and 5400 blocks of Seventh Street. Three other men who were running from the gunman were not hit. But a neighbor of Davis's was struck in the stomach as he sat on the front porch of a nearby house.

The fourth suspect, Shawn Ruffin, 20, of the 700 block of Jefferson Street NW, surrendered at the 4th District police station about 4:30 p.m. yesterday and was charged with first degree murder, police said.

A senior police official familiar with the neighborhood said most violent crime in the area is concentrated on the east end, in the 100 blocks of Kennedy and Longfellow streets.

Several small but distinct groups of youths sell drugs there, one based near First and Kennedy, and another near Fifth and Kennedy, the official said. Residents and police sources described yet further divisions, with as many as three different groups vying for space along a few blocks of Kennedy.

The youths usually are respectful and courteous to others in the neighborhood, residents said. But neighbors know to duck when the youths and reach for their guns.

"I don't fear them because they know me, and I tend to mind my business," resident Martha Herbert said. "It's just the drugs. They shoot among themselves, and I worry about getting caught in the crossfire."

Several months before he was paroled, Jeffries wrote to D.C. Superior Court Judge Evelyn E. Queen, asking for a reduced sentence. "I'm a new young man today," Jeffries wrote in the letter. "I really feel that I'm ready to return to society and lead a productive life."

Jeffries was ordered held without bond. The Davises were held in the Prince George's County Detention Center, pending extradition to face murder charges. Ruffin was being held pending a court hearing today.

Staff writers Gabriel Escobar, Alison Howard and Lynne K. Varner contributed to this report.