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Official who inspected collapsed Philadelphia building kills self

Building collapse now a criminal case

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    Building collapse now a criminal case

Building collapse now a criminal case 01:25

Story highlights

  • Ronald Wagenhoffer, 52, killed himself, city official say
  • He recently inspected a building that later fell while being demolished, killing 6
  • "This man did nothing wrong," a deputy mayor says of Wagenhoffer
  • A crane operator has been charged with involuntary manslaughter

The inspector of a downtown building that collapsed last week has killed himself, city officials said Thursday.

Ronald Wagenhoffer, 52, who worked with the Department of Licenses and Inspections, was found shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety for the city of Philadelphia, told reporters.

Although the probe into the collapse, which killed six people, is now a criminal investigation, Wagenhoffer was not a target, Gillison said.

"This man did nothing wrong," he said. "The department did what it was supposed to do under the code at the time."

Wagenhoffer was found inside a pickup truck in a wooded area along Shawmont Avenue in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

According to sources with knowledge of the investigation, Wagenhoffer's wife, Michelle, alerted police after he sent her a text message.

Woman pulled from rubble after 12 hours

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    Woman pulled from rubble after 12 hours

Woman pulled from rubble after 12 hours 02:58
Building topples onto thrift store

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    Building topples onto thrift store

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He also is survived by a son.

Wagenhoffer, who spent 16 years with the Department of Licenses and Inspections, last inspected the site of fatal building collapse on May 14 after the department received citizen complaints. He inspected the site alone, Gillison said.

Carlton Williams, commissioner for licenses and inspections, described Wagenhoffer as "dedicated" and a man who "loved his job."

"He worked extremely hard before the tragedy and after the tragedy," Williams said. "We were all shocked. He was an outstanding employee."

City officials say there were no obvious signs Wagenhoffer was distraught, adding that he worked Wednesday, leaving shortly after 3 p.m.

Authorities charged crane operator Sean Benschop, 42, with involuntary manslaughter and other related charges after a four-story wall of the vacant building collapsed onto an adjacent Salvation Army thrift store on June 5, killing six people and injuring 13.

Police have said toxicology results showed he was under the influence of a controlled substance.

Benschop, maintains his innocence. Over the weekend, his attorney, Daine Grey, said his client was "being made the scapegoat in this situation."

A grand jury will investigate the collapse to determine if anyone else should be charged, prosecutors have said.

Six complaints naming the building owner, his demolition contractor and subcontractor, and the equipment operator have been filed.