Cesar Smith stabbed to death at Gaithersburg apartment, police say

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP/ABC7) - A Gaithersburg man killed during a dispute at an apartment Monday was stabbed to death, officials say.

Police say Cesar Smith, 45, was in the apartment at the Whetstone Complex with at least one other man when several other people entered early Monday and started arguing. The two men were separated in the chaos. After the assailants left, the other man in the apartment found Smith injured and called police.

"It does kind of scare you," neighbor Melody Carr said.

Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman, says the slaying was not random. He says investigators are trying to determine a motive and are looking into whether anything was taken from the apartment.

Upstairs neighbor Lee Phan heard loud noises, but there had been parties in Smith's apartment before.

"...I thought they were having a loud party or something. I said,'Ok, whatever,'" Phan recalled.

Now, he's afraid.

"It is scary. I don't feel comfortable at all living near where someone got killed. I don't feel good at all," he continued.

Investigators have not released a motive, but court records show Smith has a criminal record that includes assault and drug charges.

Still, the notion of a homicide in the quiet neighborhood concerns many.

Carr added, "I've lived here for three years, and it's quiet. [It's] just unbelievable something like this would happen."

A peek through a back window shows a crime scene in disarray - furniture tipped over, fingerprint dust on the inside of the door.

Residents say there have been minor break-ins but nothing like this.{ }

Phan said,{ } "Makes me want to find someplace else. Just leave this place."