PALMER PARK, Md. (AP) _ After the deaths of five black gay men, patrons at three District of Columbia nightclubs have become fearful that a killer is targeting them.

Gay men at the Bachelor's Mill, 360 and Full House nightclubs became alarmed when they recognized pictures of three victims posted at the Washington bars, which are frequented by homosexual men.

`` At some point they all frequented the same clubs but we have not established that they knew each other,'' said Cpl. Diane Richardson, spokeswoman for the Prince George's County police.

She said all five victims were gay men and one was last seen at the Bachelor's Mill, a black gay club on Capitol Hill.

The five men were killed and their bodies found in this suburb of the nation's capital in three separate incidents since early October.

``I don't think their being gay has anything to do with it,'' said Beatrice Gatch, owner of Bachelor's Mill. Ms. Gatch said some of her customers suspected drugs and money were motives.

She said her club wasn't taking any extra security measures because it already searches ``every individual who comes into the establishment.''

The first victim, Anthony Barnes, 42, was found stabbed to death in his Bladensburg, Md., home on Oct. 6. There was no sign of forced entry, and his car was stolen but later recovered.

``He was last seen alive at the Bachelor's Mill,'' Richardson said.

Jimmy McGuire, 33, and James Williams, 27, were found shot to death Dec. 21 in a single-family house they shared in Clinton, Md.

And John R. Whittington, 41, of Hyattsville, Md., and Derrick Hilliard, 22, a D.C. resident, were found shot to death Jan. 5 in a first-floor room at a Motel 6 in Camp Springs, Md.

There was no signed of forced entry in those cases, either.