Three self-described “radical Christian activists” have been sentenced to federal prison for trying to burn a Burleson church on July 4, an act they told police was intended “to draw attention to the demise of society.”
On Monday, Dayton Lee Calaway, 19, was sentenced to 12 months and one day; Michael Philip Plaisted Jr., 18, was sentenced to 15 months; and Jered Michael Ragon, 18, was sentenced to 15 months, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Richard Roper.
Calaway and Plaisted were arrested near the Victory Family Church in the 400 block of Northwest John Jones Drive after they got stuck in the mud while running from a church deacon who had caught them trying to set off an explosive device, authorities reported last year.
Tuesday’s news release described the device as “a liquor-type glass bottle containing a liquid and granular mixture of gasoline and chlorine with a wick made of cloth material protruding out of the bottle mouth.”
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Ragon was implicated by the other two, and when he voluntarily came in for questioning, police noticed burns on his feet, which a police detective said had been caused when he tried to destroy evidence.
The men told police that they were in a group that believed society had become too focused on self-improvement and self-gratification and had lost focus on the glorification of God.
In the week after the arrests, Burleson police said they were preparing to submit cases of arson and engaging in organized crime against the three. According to the news release, they pleaded guilty to one charge each of possessing a destructive device.
U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay ordered the men, who remain free on bail, to report to prison on July 8.
On Tuesday night, Plaisted’s family referred questions to his attorney, who could not be reached; Ragon’s family declined to comment, and no number could be found for Calaway’s family.