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7th East Texas Church Fire Ruled Arson & Nightly Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX –

Investigators have concluded that a seventh east Texas church fire this was caused by arson. Tom Crowley's a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Dallas. He said Monday that a deliberate fire Thursday destroyed the Russell Memorial United Methodist Church sanctuary in Wills Point, 45 miles east of Dallas.

He'd previously said arson caused six other east Texas church fires this year alone: two in Tyler, one in nearby Lindale and three in the Athens area. In central Texas, ATF agents from Houston concluded arson caused a fire last month that destroyed the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Temple.

No injuries have been reported. Crowley says some similarities have been found in the east Texas fires, but also some differences - such as the different times of day the fires were set.

Gov. Perry wants Predator drones patrolling border

Gov. Rick Perry says he wants unmanned aircraft based out of Houston's Ellington Field to be used for surveillance along the state's border with Mexico. The governor said "aviation assets" would be helpful to Texas' border security with Mexico. He has asked the U.S. Defense Department to allow unarmed Predator drones to be used from Brownsville to El Paso as part of training exercises.

Perry was in suburban Dallas on Monday before making a trip to Odessa. His remarks came during a brief address to about a dozen members of the Texas Municipal Police Association.

The group has endorsed the governor in his bid against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina for the May 2 Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Perry also criticized the federal government for what he said was a failure to monitor the border.

State: Teen killed restaurateur with arrow

Prosecutors say a teenager killed the 76-year-old founder of a popular San Antonio restaurant with an arrow before setting the house ablaze and going on a spending spree with her credit cards.

Joe Estrada Jr. sat quietly Monday while his capital murder trial began for the 2008 murder of Viola Barrios, the matriarch of the popular Los Barrios and La Hacienda de los Barrios restaurants. Estrada was her next-door neighbor.

Estrada was 18 when he was arrested hours after Barrios was found dead in her home, with a bronze arrow tip lodged in her skull. He pleaded not guilty.

Estrada's attorneys postponed their opening statement to the jury. The trial was moved about 120 miles away to Victoria because of intense media coverage.