Firefighter Accused of Assaulting Teen

He surrendered to police on a warrant on March 14 on one count of simple assault

A Manchester, New Hampshire, firefighter has been arrested after he allegedly shoved a high school student at a basketball game earlier this month.

Thomas Defina is charged with simple assault, accused of pushing a teenager at his son's game.

Defina has worked as firefighter in the city for 17 years. His colleagues say he's a great guy who could have just got caught up in the moment.

The firefighter has dedicated his life to protecting his community and has been honored several times over for his bravery.

"Very outstanding firefighter," said Manchester Fire Chief James Burkush. "He has a spotless record."

Wolfeboro Police charged Defina with simple assault after an incident at a junior varsity basketball game at Kingswood Regional High School at the beginning of March. Defina turned himself in on a warrant.

"It was a very close game and these two teams are fairly competitive," said Police Chief Stuart Chase. "As a parent, I've been in stands myself, I guess emotions got high and they resulted in this incident."

Accoding to court documents, Defina was at the game watching his son play on the opposing team. Authorities say school surveillance cameras captured Defina exchanging words with a Kingswood student and then shoving him.

Wolfeboro residents say there's no excuse.

"It shouldn't matter what the kid said," said Kristina Schaffner. "It's a kid, they do stupid things."

"Certainly, as an adult, you should be able to maintain composure,' said Colleen Moore, who was visiting her mom in Wolfeboro.

"I had 30 years of dealing with teenagers and they're very funny, rambunctious, but no touching under any circumstances," said Brian Murphy, who worked security at a high school for many years.

The student involved filed a report saying, in part, "I was very frightened that this man would hurt me even more."

"It's just totally out of character for him," said Chief Burkush.

Burkush says Defina is one of Manchester's finest.

In 2013, while off duty, he says Defina helped rescued a young boy who was badly hurt in a car crash.

"If there was an incident where you were trapped in a burning building, you'd want Tom to be the firefighter coming to get you," Burkush said.

Defina couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

He's out of jail on personal recognizance bail and due back in court on April 20.

He's still on the job at the Manchester Fire Department.

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