A high-ranking Manchester firefighter was being investigated by Londonderry police for sexual assault at the time of his disappearance and death last week, officials said Sunday.
According to a statement from Manchester fire Chief Daniel Goonan, the body of Assistant Chief Brendan Burns was found shortly after his family reported him missing Sept. 30.
Goonan said Londonderry police visited him at Central Fire Station the same day.
“At that time, they informed me that Assistant Chief Burns was under investigation for sexual assault,” Goonan said in a statement. “It would be improper for me to discuss any details regarding this matter."
Goonan directed questions about Burns’ death to Pelham police and questions about the sex assault investigation to Londonderry police.
Pelham police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Londonderry police Capt. Patrick Cheetham said on Sunday he forwarded a request for information to town prosecutor Mike Malaguti.
Burns, a Londonderry resident, joined the Manchester Fire Department in 1996, his obituary states. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2004, captain in 2013 and district chief in May 2016.
On Sept. 29, 2019, he was promoted to assistant fire chief.
Burns also served as Manchester's assistant director of emergency management.
He was deeply involved in the Londonderry softball community, according to his obituary.
"Brendan was the (executive vice president) of softball for the Londonderry Athletic Field Association, president of Londonderry Lightning travel softball league, Londonderry Middle School softball coach, and a New England Fusion fast-pitch 16U coach," his death notice reads. "Brendan always considered the softball fields his second home. All the kids he had the privilege to coach, parents and other coaches were all his extended family."
Burns is survived by his wife and three children.
The Manchester Fire Department has brought in Granite State Critical Incident Stress Management Team to provide grief counseling for department members, according to Goonan.