Atheist books, guns found at home of suspect in East Texas church fires

| February 24, 2010

TYLER – One of two East Texas church arson suspects kept books on demon possession and atheism as well as assault rifles and guns, and may have left graffiti offering inside information about one of the attacks in a local store bathroom, according to court records.

Jason Bourque, 19, was under police surveillance on Feb. 13 when he went in the bathroom of a ranch store in Tyler, according to one search warrant affidavit filed in Smith County District Court.

Investigators later found an upside-down cross topped with flames carved onto the store's bathroom wall, the documents said. Beside the cross were the words "Little Hope was Arson," an apparent reference to the first of 10 churches burned in the spree that terrorized three East Texas counties.

At the time, court records indicate, authorities had not released any information indicating that they suspected that the Jan. 1 fire at Little Hope Baptist Church in Canton was deliberately set.

Court documents indicate that investigators had determined that the fire was arson, but that information "would not have been known to anyone else but the fire starter."

Details of the ongoing investigation came in court documents filed two days after authorities arrested Bourque in Grand Saline and his childhood friend, Ben Wheeler resident Daniel George McAllister, 21, near San Antonio.

The men were charged with a single count of arson involving a house of worship, a crime punishable by five to 99 years in prison. But authorities say more charges will soon be filed against the two men in 10 church fires and three church break-ins in Van Zandt, Henderson and Smith counties.

Search warrants filed late Monday and Tuesday in Tyler indicate that authorities began collecting a wide array of evidence within weeks after the fires began. They spotted the same pairs of shoe tracks at several of the fires and break-ins, and later connected those tracks with shoes or boots worn by Bourque and McAllister.

After several attacks, authorities recovered matching DNA samples from rocks or bricks used to break into church buildings. Several of the warrants were used to obtain DNA samples from the two men.

A search of Bourque's home after his arrest recovered books titled Demon Possession and The Atheist's Way.

Also seized from Bourque's residence were a Chinese-made SKS assault rifle, a Ruger 7 mm rifle and two .22-caliber rifles, a GPS and several pairs of brown shoes.

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Category: Church Security

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