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Two arrested in connection with Texas church fires

Daniel McAllister, left, and Jason Bourque are charged in one fire and are suspected in others, authorities say.
Daniel McAllister, left, and Jason Bourque are charged in one fire and are suspected in others, authorities say.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Call to a tip hot line led to the arrests, ATF says
  • NEW: Source: Evidence linked to one of the suspects through DNA
  • Two men charged with arson in connection with one Texas church fire
  • Men are suspects in nine other church fires in east Texas, authorities say

Dallas, Texas (CNN) -- Two men were arrested and charged Sunday in connection with a string of deliberately set church fires in east Texas, authorities said.

Jason Robert Bourque, 19, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, were charged with one count of arson each in a February 8 fire set at the Dover Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, according to the state Department of Public Safety. Authorities say they believe the men are connected to nine other church fires that have been set in the area since January 1.

Bourque and McAllister also are suspects in the attempted break-ins at three separate churches earlier this month, said Steve McCraw, director of the public safety department.

A federal law enforcement source told CNN that multiple pieces of evidence have been linked to one of the suspects through DNA and that many of the fires were ignited the same way.

"East Texans can rest easier tonight," McCraw said at a news conference announcing the arrests.

He called the arsons "despicable and cowardly acts."

Video: 2 held in church arson case
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A call to a tip hot line led to the arrests, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was offering a $25,000 reward for information about the fires.

Investigators were first made aware of the suspects about two weeks ago and had been trying to build a case against them since then, ATF Special Agent Thomas Crowley said.

Authorities have been interviewing them since their arrest but there's still no information on motive, Crowley said.

Authorities on February 12 released sketches of three people sought in connection with the fires. On Sunday, officials said that those "persons of interest" are not related to this weekend's arrests.

An 11th church arson in Temple, Texas, is not related to the other 10, said Robert Champion of the ATF in Dallas, Texas. Earlier this month, authorities said they were trying to determine whether the Temple fire was connected to the others.

CNN's Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.

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