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Shoe prints, tapes link suspects to Texas church arsons

Daniel McAllister, left, and Jason Bourque are charged in one Texas church fire and suspected in others, authorities say.
Daniel McAllister, left, and Jason Bourque are charged in one Texas church fire and suspected in others, authorities say.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jason Bourque, Daniel McAllister charged with arson in connection with church fire
  • Authorities think they are responsible for other church blazes in east Texas
  • Gas station surveillance tape shows men close to church's at time of fire, court documents say
  • Footprints also link suspect to churches
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(CNN) -- Shoe prints left behind at the scene of several church fires in east Texas, as well as surveillance tapes and witness accounts, led police to two men now charged in one blaze and suspected in a string of others, according to court documents.

Jason Robert Bourque, 19, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, are charged with one count of arson each in connection with a February 8 fire at Dover Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. The blaze was one of 10 church fires in east Texas this year. Nine have been ruled arson, and authorities have said they believe Bourque and McAllister are responsible for them.

Both men appeared in court Monday in Tyler and are being held on $10 million bond.

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.

A resident called 911 at 8:45 p.m. after seeing smoke rising from the sanctuary at Dover Baptist Church, according to probable cause affidavits. As firefighters battled the blaze, a second fire was reported at 9:44 p.m. at Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, about 15 miles northwest of Tyler.

At Dover Baptist, someone apparently kicked in a rear door and threw a rock through a window, according to the affidavits. A Red Wing brand boot print was found on the door. It's the same brand of boot that authorities believe left prints at previous church fires and attempted church break-ins in three counties. A print from a Skechers shoe also was found at several fire and attempted break-in locations, the affidavits said.

Police obtained a surveillance tape from a gas station near Dover Baptist, the documents said. "Subsequent review of this video revealed individuals known ... as Jason Robert Bourque and Daniel George McAllister were present at said location close to the same time the fire at Dover Baptist Church was discovered."

A second surveillance tape, from a store near Clear Spring Missionary Baptist, shows someone police believe is Bourque walking inside at about 10:35 p.m., according to the affidavit.

Witnesses told police they saw a dark blue or purple four-door car parked next to the Clear Spring Church before the fire. A second sighting of such a car was reported on the same road where the church is located, the documents said. One witness said he saw the driver was a white male wearing a T-shirt and tried to flag him down, but the vehicle sped away.

On February 11, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contacted Bourque at his Lindale home, following up on a tip they received that he was involved in several of the church arsons, the affidavit said. Bourque agreed to talk with authorities, and they checked his blue 2008 Ford Focus, the documents said. The affidavits do not divulge what, if anything, Bourque told the agents.

While agents were at Bourque's home, his grandmother backed out of the garage and left the door open. The agents saw a muddy pair of Skechers shoes inside, the affidavit said. Agents believe the sole pattern on the shoes is consistent with the prints found near the churches.

Authorities contacted a member of McAllister's family, who told them he wears a size 13 or 14 boot, the documents said. A family member was shown a Red Wing boot and said the sole was the same as McAllister's, except his boots were more worn.

The relative took McAllister to the Greyhound Bus Station in Dallas, Texas, on February 10 where he purchased a one-way ticket to San Antonio, Texas, the affidavit said. McAllister was arrested in San Antonio.

Authorities have given no information on a motive for the fires.