Texas church arsonists plead guilty

TYLER, Texas ? Two men who attended a Southern Baptist church as teenagers pled guilty Dec. 14 in a string of East Texas church arsons.

Jason Robert Bourque, 19, of Lindale, Texas and Daniel George McAllister, 21, of Ben Wheeler, Texas, pled guilty Dec. 14 in connection with the 10 church arsons in January and February.

Five of the burned churches were Baptist and four of them were Southern Baptist: Lake Athens Baptist Church in Athens, Little Hope Baptist Church in Canton, Tyland Baptist Church in Tyler and Dover Baptist Church in rural Smith County.

As teens, both attended First Baptist Church of Ben Wheeler, according to news reports.

The fires occurred in Henderson, Smith and Van Zandt counties. The pair was arrested in mid-February on a tip to agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The Dallas Morning News described Borque’s courtroom demeanor as “grim-faced” as he stood to hear his charges before media members and church ministers.

Bourque’s grandmother was heard to say, “keep us in your prayers,” according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

The two could face multiple life sentences and possible restitution for their crimes. Judge Christi Kennedy will sentence the men on Jan. 10.

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