A 25-year-old man has been arrested and charged in the stabbing death of an employee at the Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg, Maryland, earlier this month, police said.
Trenton Flowers-Jackson is accused of attacking his acquaintance, 23-year-old José Alexander Maldonado. He was arrested Saturday in Rockville on a first-degree murder charge, Montgomery County police announced Monday.
Weeks before the assault, the suspect had reportedly been "hearing voices," and said he believed he was being stalked and that someone had hacked his computer, according to charging documents.
Maldonado died after being stabbed the morning of Feb. 21. According to police, the victim was working at a T-Mobile store inside the mall when Flowers-Jackson entered the establishment and, “without provocation,” began to stab him multiple times.
Maldonado tried to escape but collapsed. The suspect, who was wearing a black hooded jacket and a blue medical mask that covered half his face, then fled the scene, the documents say.
Montgomery County and Gaithersburg officers responded shortly before 11 a.m. to the mall on Russell Avenue and found Maldonado with multiple injuries. While they tried to treat him, one of the officers asked the victim if he knew who had attacked him. Maldonado replied, “Trent, Trent,” the filings say.
Maldonado was taken to a hospital in critical condition where he later died, police said. The autopsy revealed he had suffered cutting and stabbing injuries in his “face, ear, stomach, shoulder and back,” according to the documents.
Investigators were able to identify Flowers-Jackson as the stabbing suspect after reviewing surveillance videos, police and phone records and receiving testimony from Maldonado’s close friend.
The victim’s friend, identified in the documents only by his initials, told police Maldonado introduced him to "Trent" in 2019. He said all three had hung out a few times but lost touch after "Trent" accused him of hacking into his computer.
The friend said a few weeks ago Maldonado had randomly brought "Trent" up and asked him if he remembered him. Both then agreed that “Trent was crazy,” the documents say.
The friend also told police he had seen a video of the stabbing that had been making rounds on social media and that he thought the attacker walked “exactly like Trent.”
The filings indicate that weeks before the stabbing, Flowers-Jackson’s mother had called police asking for a check on her son, who she said had “been showing signs of psychosis, hearing voices and [believing] he is outside of his body and having delusions.”
At the time, officers went to Flowers-Jackson’s apartment, where he told them he was fine and did not need any help, according to charging documents.
Exactly a month later, Flowers-Jackson contacted police, insisting that his computer had been hacked and that he was being stalked. He also told an officer that his phone was being redirected and that “someone had been stalking [his computer],” the documents say.
Detectives believe Flowers-Jackson intended to attack Maldonado the night before the stabbing. He visited his workplace but the victim had already left, the documents say.
Flowers-Jackson will remain held without bond and the Office of the Public Defender requested a mental health evaluation, a spokesperson for Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office said.
Shortly after the stabbing Maldonado’s family told T44 that they were in shock and didn't understand why their loved one was attacked.
Maldonado had recently bought his first car and was very happy at his job, his family said. His dream was to eventually buy his mother a house.