Jason Bourque offers explanation for church fires - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Jason Bourque offers explanation for church fires

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV)- Monday morning, KLTV 7 News was given the chance to do something that investigators in the church arson cases were never able to successfully do: question arsonist Jason Bourque.

Bourque and Daniel McAllister are now sentenced to a combined 14 life sentences for burning down churches in three East Texas counties.

Although Bourque has been portrayed as the leader in these burnings, he claims that's not true. Now, Jason Bourque tells his side of the story, including the best explanation he says he can offer.

For nearly an hour, Bourque answered every question KLTV 7 News threw at him, besides one: how long he thinks he'll remain in prison. Although he wouldn't talk about that, he did make it clear he believes the sentences are excessive.

"I feel like if it had been commercial buildings and not churches it wouldn't have been as harsh of a sentence," said Bourque. "In fact, I've heard other arsons have gotten lesser sentences."

As for how he got here in the Smith County Jail, Bourque says he can only speculate.

"I was in a daze during most of that whole time so I can't really say for sure as to any reason," he said.

Dazed, Bourque says because he was on Chantix, Prozac and marijuana. He says the smoking cessation drug made reality seem like a dream. It wasn't until after he was off of that drug, he realized what he had done.

"I'm sorry," said Bourque. "I hope everybody forgives me. I want to also say that I forgive the people who have spoken hatefully and who've lied about me, especially Daniel."

Daniel McAllister confessed to Texas Ranger Brent Davis and former ATF agent Larry Smith.

"I walked around the church and I would come back into the sanctuary, and Jason already had it started and burning," said McAllister. "It didn't take but 10 or 15 minutes from each one, building it up from the ground."

Bourque says he hasn't spoken to McAllister in nearly a year because the two have been separated. Bourque says he forgives McAllister, but doesn't trust him.

"Well I think that he's...I don't really want to bash him, so I'd hate to say all this, but since you asked me I feel like he's been really manipulative and two-faced and that he's twisted facts and made a lot of outright lies," said Bourque.

Bourque claims it was McAllister's idea to target churches.

"He made a lot of comments like I said before about how the churches were corrupt and controlling and that we should burn them all down," said Bourque. "He was equally involved. He was stacking things up and lighting things on fire."

Bourque has confessed to burning down ten churches, but claims he was never equipped to start the fires.

"We weren't worried about accelerants," he said. "I wasn't worried about anything like I said because I was just kind of going along in a daze, but when we got there and started doing it there was always something flammable around. I know at one or two of them we used paint."

Although Bourque doesn't remember everything that happened, he maintains that it was his desire to quit smoking that led to his crime spree.

"I was sitting in my room the other night writing about how ironic I thought it was that you know most people try to quit smoking to add years to their life, well trying to quit smoking took years away from mine," said Bourque.

It's because of this he's certain that God has forgiven him. "I think He also knows my heart and knows that it wasn't something I intentionally did and the medication was the reason for it."

He hopes that the God that's forgiven him is also in the hearts of those he hurt.

"I want people to see the good that's come from it and see how God turns bad circumstances around like He says He can do," said Bourque.

Jason Bourque told KLTV 7 News much more about his crime during our nearly hour-long conversation.

Monday night, in a new report on KLTV 7 News at 10, you'll hear how Bourque plans to help others through writing about his experience, and the interesting title he plans to give his book.

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Listen to the phone interview with Jason Bourque on Feb. 14, 2011

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