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Ronald Wagenhoffer, inspector who surveyed Philadelphia building prior to collapse, commits suicide

Emergency personnel respond to a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. AP Photo/Dino Hazell

Emergency personnel respond to a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, Wednesday, June 5, 2013.
AP Photo/Dino Hazell
(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - Ronald Wagenhoffer, an inspector who surveyed a downtown building weeks before it collapsed, killing 6 people, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound a week after the accident, authorities said Thursday.

Wagenhoffer, 52, was found dead Wednesday night in a pickup truck with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, according to Philadelphia police. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said Wagenhoffer was a Department of Licenses and Inspections employee who had inspected the building May 14.

Department employees were being informed of the death Thursday morning.

Investigators say a heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet was high on marijuana when a building under demolition collapsed onto a neighboring thrift store on June 5. The operator, Sean Benschop, faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe. His attorney has said he was being made a scapegoat.

The city's top prosecutor has convened a grand jury to investigate whether anyone else should face criminal charges.

A demolition permit indicates that contractor Griffin Campbell was being paid $10,000 for the job. Campbell's lawyer has called him despondent but "absolutely not responsible" for the deaths. On Thursday, he released a statement expressing condolences to the inspector and the families.

"Our heartfelt condolences go to the family of the inspector," attorney Kenneth Edelin said in a statement. "We also continue to pray for the families of those that were lost, and for the health and speedy recovery of those that were injured."

Wagenhoffer is described as a dedicated 16-year veteran of the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Deputy Mayor Gillison says the department is in mourning and Wagenhoffer "did nothing wrong." Wagenhoffer leaves behind a wife and son.

Complete coverage of the Philadelphia building collapse on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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