House Fire Ruled Arson; Was Scene Of January Standoff

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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UPDATE: Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Investigators have determined that arson is the cause of a west Wichita house fire Monday.

The fire did $35,000 in damage.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Wichita firefighters responded to the scene of a house fire late Monday afternoon near Central and McLean.

When crews arrived in the 2400 block of West Newell they found heavy smoke coming from the home and discovered a fire burning in the basement. Battlion Chief Sid Newby said crews brough the fire quickly under control.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and a damage estimate was not available at the scene. Newby tells KAKE News that the home appeared to be vacant and no one was inside when crews arrived on scene.

The housee is the same home that was the scene of a standoff back on January 9th that began as a wrong food order at a Wichita McDonalds.

That morning, 24-year-old Sean C. Costa of Wichita and his co-defendant 27-year-old Melissa Palacios are believed to have ordered food at a McDonald's drive-thru at 6350 W. Kellogg in West Wichita.

As the pair were driving away, police said they realized their order was wrong, turned around and tried to cut in the drive-thru lane.

At that point, words were exchanged between occupants of the two cars, and Costa allegedly stepped out of his vehicle and fired a shotgun at the other. The blast struck between the driver's side front and back door of the victim's car. No one was hurt.

Police responded and tracked the car to a home in the 2400 block of Newell. Costa and a woman were taken into custody several hours later.

Officers later served a search warrant inside the home, and found a Mossberg pump-action shotgun in a crawl space next to Costa's bed, but he told investigators that he didn't fire the gun at McDonald's.

Costa was charged federally due to a prior felony conviction of aggravated assault in 2011. That conviction prohibits him from possession a firearm under federal law.

If convicted on the new charge, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Costa and 27-year-old Melissa Palacios are also facing charges in district court.

On January 11, each were charged with four counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal possession of a firearm.

A preliminary hearing for Palacios is scheduled for February 28. A third man, 20 year-old Isacc Pankratz is accused of firing the shotgun. A documented gang member, Pankratz is scheduled for a preliminary hearing February 11.

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