By Stephen Buckley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 23, 1990; Page C06

An unidentified man, believed to be homeless, was fatally wounded last night in a scuffle with U.S. Park Police officers near the White House, police said.

D.C. police spokesman Lt. Reginald L. Smith said the incident began shortly after 7:30 p.m. when a Park Police officer, whom he identified as Katherine Heller, came across a man in Lafayette Square who had been assaulted.

After Heller radioed a description of the alleged attacker, another Park Police officer, Scott Dahl, spotted a man matching the description near the H Street entrance of the Veterans Administration building, Smith said.

He said Dahl approached the man, who began fighting with the officer and managed to wrest his service pistol away from him. At that point, Smith said, Heller approached and shot the man in the chest.

The man, who was not identified, was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he died.

The person assaulted by the man also was taken to the hospital, where he was treated and released, the spokesman said.

The two officers were taken to the Washington Hospital Center with minor injuries and were treated and released, an official there said.

After the shooting, police collected a sleeping bag, a blanket and a small nylon bag that lay near an entrance of the Veterans Administration building on Vermont Avenue.

Lafayette Square is directly north of the White House.

On most evenings, homeless men and women are scattered throughout the park, sleeping on benches or huddled near its information center.

A Park Police official said the slain man had been a regular in the park.

Last night, perhaps because of the heavy rains, the park was mostly empty.

"I heard the shots, but I didn't see nothing," said a woman who lay in a sleeping bag next to the information center. "I just try to mind my own business."