Arson suspects grew up in the church

| February 21, 2010

SMITH COUNTY, TEXAS (KLTV) – Members of First Baptist Church, Ben Wheeler held a special prayer service, Sunday night. Carlton Young has been pastor of the church for 15 years. He said Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister, the two men arrested in connection with the rash of East Texas fires, are former members of his church.

"Daniel was a very quiet young man ," he said. "Jason, at that time, was a little mischievous."

Young lives next door to the church. He said his wife was standing in their living room several years ago and spotted Bourque and McAllister from the window.

It was after midnight and the two young men had backpacks on. They disappeared inside a side door of the church, and reappeared about an hour later with lollipops in their mouths.

Young said nothing was broken or taken, and that he and his wife thought nothing of the situation. But Young said he did have a conversation with the two of them afterward.

David McAllister, Daniel's father, lives in Van and said he never had any problems with Daniel as a young boy. "He was a good kid."

He said Daniel's mother died about three years ago, and that's when he started seeing changes in Daniel's behavior.

"In the last couple of weeks, I had that feeling that something was not quite right," he said. McAllister said he even became suspicious of his son when word of the fires initially started to spread–that was until the sketches were released.

McAllister blew the thought off because the sketches did not look like his son. "I know my son didn't have any tattoos like that, either," he said.

McAllister has not spoken to his son since his arrest in San Antonio.

McAllister said his daughter is a DPS dispatcher, and told him that Daniel has accepted responsibility for his alleged actions. "I still love him, and all I can do is be there for him," he said.

Jason Bourque's family gathered inside his grandfather's home near Lindale. They declined to speak with us, accept to say that the situation was, "In God's hands, now."

Austin Johnson attends church with Bourque's family. He said Jason would occasionally attend youth Bible studies at Christ Central Church in Lindale. Johnson described Bourque as "very kind" and "brilliant."

We learned Bourque was a state champion debater in high school.

"He was always very knowledgeable of the [Bible]," said Johnson. "Expecting him to do something like this would have never crossed my mind."

UT Tyler was able to confirm that Bourque was last enrolled as a student in the spring of 2009.

The Van Police Department also said two outstanding warrants will be served to Daniel McAllister for "drug paraphernalia" and "failing to appear in court" on the drug charge.

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Category: Church Security

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