Deadly first weekend of 2019 in DC as police investigate deaths of 5 people

The first weekend of the new year in the District was deadly, as police investigate the deaths of five people that have been reported since Saturday. There have been seven homicides in DC since New Year's Day.

It began early Saturday morning, when two people were found dead inside a burning home in Southeast.

During a briefing on Monday, DC Police Chief Peter Newsham says officers have made "some pretty good progress in that case."

Officials say the two victims, now identified 60-year-old Joseph Burgess and 50-year-old Regina Bowman were not killed by the fire.

"They were found ins separate parts of the home," said Newsham.

"I am not going to discuss the nature of the injuries. Dr. Mitchell has determined that it was a homicide. The manner of homicide is going to require some more tests by the chief medical examiner."

Newsham went on to say that investigators have not yet been able to identify a suspect.

"A lot of that case is going to require some pretty significant forensic work so that may take us a bit but we have made pretty good progress."

The fire was discovered when six firefighters were called to battle a blaze inside a home just across the way on D Street Southeast. It was there that fire crews found that a fire had broken out at the home at 3354 Ely Place.

Both fires have been called suspicious and investigators are now trying to determine if they may be connected.

Chief Newsham says a man is in custody charged with assaulting a woman in the house on D Street before it was set on fire.

On Sunday morning, police arrested a Naval medic suspected of stabbing a man to death earlier in the day at a Northwest apartment complex. Marine Corps Base Quantico spokesman confirms 23-year-old Collin J. Potter, of Quantico, Va. was arrested on charges of first-degree murder for the death of 36-year-old D.C. man. Potter is a corpsman, a role similar to a medic, assigned to the base at Quantico.

Police are also investigating after a person was shot and killed on O Street in Northwest, D.C. around 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Officers have no suspects at this time.

Chief Newsham says the laws on gun crimes aren't working as well as he would like.

"One of the things I get a little frustrated with is that the consequences for carrying illegal firearms is not changing behavior and I have had that conversation with our criminal justice partners," he said.

The most recent killing was reported Sunday in the 800 block of Varnum Street in the Northwest.

Officers say a person was shot and killed just before 11 p.m. Police are looking for two suspects in connection with the shootings. Police identified the victim as 28-year-old James Lamont Stewart.

The District saw a rise in homicides for 2018. The Washington Post reports by New Year's Eve there were 160 fatal shootings for the year, a 40 percent increase over the previous year's 116 total. The rise in homicides has not been since in D.C. since 2015.