Grand jury hears evidence in church-arson cases - Word&Way

Grand jury hears evidence in church-arson cases

TYLER, Texas (ABP) — A grand jury began hearing testimony May 13 in the case of two men suspected of burning down 10 churches in East Texas in January and February, a television station in Tyler, Texas, reported.

Jason Bourque, 19, and Daniel McAllister, 21, were arrested Feb. 21 on a single charge of setting fire to Dover Baptist Church near Lindale, Texas, on Feb. 8. Television station KLTV reported May 13, however, that a grand jury could indict the two men on as many as 12 different arson and attempted-arson charges.

The station cited sources who said the grand jury could hand down four different indictments against McAllister: two arson charges on Feb. 8, the night that firefighters attempted to save both Dover Baptist Church and nearby Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church, and two charges of attempted arson. Bourque could face a total of eight possible indictments for arson and attempted arson, including the fires on Feb. 8.

Authorities said from the beginning they believed the duo was responsible for nine other church fires in four East Texas communities between Jan. 1 and Feb. 8.

Police have not reported a motive. Their former pastor said the two boys were once active at First Baptist Church in Ben Wheeler, Texas, but drifted away after McAllister's mother died from a heart and attack and a stroke and Bourque's family moved to a different town.


Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.