TYLER, Texas (BP)–The two men who were charged in a string of East Texas church arsons were given life sentences plus additional 20-year sentences, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.
Judge Christi Kennedy announced the sentences Jan. 10 for Jason Robert Bourque, 20, of Lindale, and Daniel George McAllister, 22, of Ben Wheeler, after the two pled guilty Dec. 14 in connection with the 10 church arsons in early 2010.
Four of the burned churches 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 in Texas. The pair was arrested last February on a tip to agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
David Mahfood, pastor of Tyland Baptist Church in Tyler, told the Southern Baptist TEXAN in an e-mail: “This should not be construed as a joyous day for anyone — not for us, nor our community, and certainly not for these two young men and their families. This is a day of closure; and, believing as we do that our God is sovereign and benevolent, we look forward to the future He has graciously set before us.”
Reported by the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, online at www.texanonline.net.