Crime & Courts

Suspect in downtown trash dumpster fire case has previous arson convictions

A 58-year-old man was arrested Thursday after fires were set in a half-dozen trash dumpsters around downtown Wichita, authorities said.

The man was arrested Thursday morning a short time after officers arrived in the area, Lt. Steve Kenney said.

The suspect, identified in police and jail documents as David Konert, was spotted walking away from the area of one of the burning dumpsters.

The first fire was reported shortly before midnight on Wednesday at the northeast corner of First and Topeka. More dumpster fires were discovered within minutes, at 358 N. Main, 212 N. Market, 248 N. Broadway, 200 N. Broadway, 112 E. Second and 400 E. First, the supervisor said.

All of the dumpster fires were within a three-block radius, Kenney said.

One of the fires was large enough to scorch the brick of a nearby building, he said, but no significant damage from the arsons was found. No motive for the fires has been revealed, Kenney said.

Konert was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of six counts of arson.

He has numerous felonies in his criminal history, including previous convictions for arson of a non-dwelling.

He was arrested in March 2011 after setting several trash dumpsters in the Delano neighborhood on fire, Wichita fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said. He pleaded no contest, court records show, and served 135 days in prison.

The dumpster fires in Delano occurred only weeks after he pleaded no contest to two counts of criminal damage to property in Saline County District Court, records show. Konert was originally charged with 13 crimes, including numerous counts of arson of a non-dwelling.

Saline County court records show the fires were set on Sept. 20, 2010.