Burton firefighter wanted on charges for soliciting sex from 13-year-old ‘no longer employed’ with district

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Hunted by state law enforcement, Thomsen fled to Georgia medical facility

By Mindy Lucas

An area firefighter wanted on charges of soliciting sex from a 13-year-old girl is no longer working as a firefighter with his department, officials say.

“Brandon Thomsen is no longer employed by the Burton Fire District,” said Capt. Dan Byrne with the district by phone on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Asked specifically if Thomsen was fired or had resigned, Byrne said the district does not discuss personnel issues.

“All we can say is he is longer employed (with the district),” Byrne said.

Earlier in the month, Thomsen had been placed on “immediate suspension” by the fire district after it was notified that warrants had been taken out for his arrest.

In addition, Thomsen, 46, was recently located at a medical facility in Brunswick, Georgia. Police learned of his presence at the facility on Dec. 6, said Beaufort Police Department spokesman Capt. George Erdel.

“We had hoped to quickly pick him up, but he fled from his residence prior to the arrest warrants being issued,” Erdel said.

An “active, ongoing and parallel fugitive investigation” was conducted with the help of officers from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in an attempt to locate Thomsen, Erdel said.

Thomsen’s name was also placed in the NCIC, or National Crime Information Center’s system and a “BOLO” or “Be on the Lookout” was also issued to area law enforcement agencies in an attempt to find him, Erdel said.

Why Thomsen is at the facility or what he is being treated for has not been released due to patient privacy concerns, Erdel said.

“We cannot release information about his hospitalization, other than to say that when he is no longer being hospitalized, he will be picked up in Georgia and taken to jail to begin the extradition process. We do not know how long that will take,” Erdel said in an email Tuesday.

On Nov. 28, the mother of the 13-year-old contacted police after her daughter told her of illicit messages she had received from Thomsen via Snapchat, according to a redacted police report. Thomsen was described as a “very good family friend” in the report.

On Dec. 2, police took out warrants for Thomsen’s arrest including one count of criminal solicitation of a minor and one count of disseminating obscene material to a person under 18, according to the report.

In addition, in 2018, Thomsen was accused of employing a chokehold on 24-year-old Trey Pringle, of Seabrook, in an altercation involving Pringle and police. Pringle, who was also Tased during the altercation, was hospitalized and died three days later, according to news reports from the time.

Prior to being suspended earlier this month, Thomsen had not been on duty since Aug. 20, according to the fire district, though no reason has been given for why he has not been working since then.

After contacting the Beaufort law firm of Moss, Kuhn, & Fleming, earlier in December as instructed by the fire district, the firm referred The Island News to Thomsen’s Columbia attorney, Michael Burchstead with Collins & Lacy. In a text response, Burchstead stated, “We are unable to comment on pending litigation.”

Additional questions sent to the fire district regarding Thomsen’s employment while with the district were not immediately answered as of press time on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Check back here as this story continues to develop.

Related: Burton firefighter wanted on charges for soliciting sex from 13-year-old

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