LONDONDERRY — Assistant Manchester Fire Chief Brendan Burns was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound a day after Londonderry police were scheduled to interview him about rape allegations, police reports explain.
Investigators say they had reason to charge the 45-year-old Londonderry man with two felony counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault — one for assaulting a physically helpless victim and the other for no consent.
A report explains that an investigation was launched Sept. 24, after a woman called the police department on behalf of her friend, who said she was a victim of sexual assault two nights prior.
The redacted report does not include that woman’s name or the name of her friend. Locations at which the victims interacted are also redacted.
Police reports describe interviews with the victim, surveillance footage of the alleged assault, and a conversation between the victim and Burns that officers were listening in on.
Police said they were told that the victim and Burns were out drinking together before he offered to follow her home.
“Once they were inside (redacted)’s home, despite (redacted) getting sick and throwing up several times, Brendan sexually assaulted (redacted) on her living room couch,” a police report read.
In an interview with the victim, police said they were told “this was the first time the two had ever been out alone.”
The victim “kept thinking how she didn’t want to drink anymore, however, Brendan kept telling her to drink her margarita,” she told police.
She reported that at one point during the night in question, she “remembers feeling like she had no strength.”
A report details how investigators were approved for a “one consent phone call,” in which the victim would call Burns on a line that officers were listening in on.
According to police, Burns said on the call, “I’m sure if we could both go back in time we’d be like what the (explicative) were we thinking.”
Also, “I feel like we got (explicative) roofied or something. It was weird.”
“I regret every second of it,” Burns said. “I (explicative) up,” and “we were both way too drunk, it was bad top to bottom.”
Police said the call ended with Burns saying he would not tell anyone about the incident; he apologizes and says the two will get through it together.
Burns was contacted by police about the allegations Sept. 29, police said, and he agreed to arrive at the police department for an interview within several hours.
But he did not show up, and police did not hear from him, they said.
A report explains that police were able to “ping” Burns’ cell phone to Pelham, where they recruited help from police there to help search for him.
Pelham police notified Londonderry officers Sept. 30 that they found Burns’ car with a suicide note and later located his body.
Burns’ untimely death investigation is ongoing in Pelham, according to Londonderry police.
In providing the police reports to the Derry New's sister paper The Eagle-Tribune, Londonderry Assistant Solicitor Michael Malaguti said the disclosure of documents comes after consultation with the alleged victim.
“I have concluded that these disclosures are legally required,” Malaguti wrote. “Disclosure will be upsetting to those most directly affected by the events described in these records. This does not relieve us of any obligation to comply with our public records law.”
He added, “To those who will continue to be impacted by these events for the rest of their lives, the Londonderry Police Department extends its deepest sympathy.”