By LARRY PHILLIPS
• Daily Leader
The Seward County District Attorney’s office has confirmed charges of arson and theft have been filed in the state of Kansas in connection with the Jan. 4 fire that destroyed the Rent-A-Center store and damaged several other places at the Coronado Plaza strip mall in north Liberal.
Though the district attorney’s office will not release the person’s name until he or she has their first appearance in Seward County District Court, a source close to the case has identified the man as Shivantha W. Kulatunga. That source also said the man is in custody in another state awaiting extradition to Liberal.
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said there was no estimation as to when the person would be turned over to authorities in Liberal. The spokesman explained the man’s first appearance in Seward County District Court could be delayed as much as 60 to 90 days if the man were to fight extradition, for example.
A check with records in Oklahoma, Kulatunga was formerly a Texas County resident, only showed a speeding ticket in June of 2008 and his divorce in July of 2009 on his record.
Firemen battled the Jan. 4 blaze for most of that day, as the intense heat breached a fire wall, though the actual fire was contained to the Rent-A-Center store. Construction to rebuild the store, which was totally gutted, is currently under way.