Police arrest man who set vacant house on fire, killed two people

11SEAT PLEASANT – A 53-year-old District of Columbia man has been arrested in connection with setting a house on fire that killed two people.

Detectives from the Prince George's County Police Department Homicide Unit arrested Thomas Gerald Deal of Northeast D.C. and charged him with two counts of first-degree murder, arson and other charges.

Deal has been arrested by police several times in the past for disorderly conduct, burglary and other crimes.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 2, units from Prince George's County Fire Department arrived on the scene in the 6200 block of Foote Street in Seat Pleasant and encounter heavy fire conditions on all floors of a two-story vacant house.

According to Mark Brady, the spokesperson for Prince George's County Fire Department, it took about 30 minutes to bring the fire under control. During a search of the house, firefighters found two men on the top floor of the house. Their bodies were so badly burned that investigators had to determine their gender by autopsy.

On Thursday, officials identified the two men as 56-year-old Gary Alphonso Driver of Southern Avenue in Oxon Hill and 51-year-old Derrick McDowell of Etna Drive in Upper Marlboro. Both Driver and McDowell had been arrested by county police for a number of crimes they had committed over the last several years.

Fire investigators from the Prince George's County Fire Department arrived on the scene to investigate the fire. During the investigation, they determined that the fire was deliberately set.

As with any fatal fires in the county, homicide detectives were called to the scene to assist investigators with the investigation to determine if a crime was committed.

During the course of the investigation, evidence was collected linking Deal to the fire. The motive in the case remains under investigation.

Deal is now in the custody of the department of corrections.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the homicide unit at 301-772-4925.

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