Department store employee slain at Lakeforest mall

Police say assailant was her co-worker

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006

A J.C. Penney employee at Lakeforest mall in Gaithersburg was fatally wounded Thursday afternoon when she was repeatedly stabbed by a co-worker, county police say.

The 35-year-old woman was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at an area hospital. Her identity was unavailable.

Police received a call at about 3:15 p.m. that a woman was found in a storage room and was stabbed multiple times with a knife, Montgomery County Police spokesman Lt. Eric Burnett said. The stabbing resulted from an argument earlier in the day between the woman and her co-worker, a 20-year-old Gaithersburg man, police reported.

Shortly after the woman was stabbed, the man fled from the building and was struck by a Toyota pick-up truck while crossing Lost Knife Road, Burnett said. The man continued to flee and was arrested without incident in the 9500 block of Horizon Run Road, he said.

As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, police were continuing to interrogate the man, who did not require hospitalization, Burnett said. Police did not release the suspect's identity.

The store closed after the incident, employees said. Several Lakeforest mall shoppers milled around outside the store to allow a police investigation.

“There's your usual stalker that tries to take your packages, but as far as I know this is really bizarre,“ said Diane Gray of Gaithersburg.

Shoppers Goug Cool of Frederick and Richard Day of Germantown said this was the first crime of this magnitude they'd heard of at the mall. Both said it wouldn't deter future visits.

Mariana Berez, an employee at Silver Diner, which is next to J.C. Penney, said her manager was in the retail store when security began ushering people outside. Berez said that “of course“ the stabbing makes her worried.

“I'm not safe,“ said Berez of Germantown.

Detectives are asking anyone who may have information about the incident to call the Homicide⁄Sex Section at 240-773-5070. Those who wish to remain anonymous should call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).