PHILADELPHIA — A veteran 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.
Ronald Wagenhoffer, 52, was found shot in the chest in a pickup truck around 9 p.m. Wednesday. A longtime employee with the Department of Licenses and Inspections, Wagenhoffer had inspected the building May 14 and signed off on demolition work underway, after getting complaints about the site from the public, Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said.
That was three weeks before the vacant four-story building collapsed onto a neighboring Salvation Army thrift store on June 5, killing two employees and four customers and injuring 13 other people.
“With the building collapse a week ago, we have now lost seven lives in connection with this tragedy,” Gillison said at a news conference, adding that Wagenhoffer leaves behind a wife and son. “This man did nothing wrong. The department did what it was supposed to do.”
Department employees were informed of the death Thursday morning. Wagenhoffer was a 16-year city employee who had started with the Department of Public Property and worked his way up through the ranks to building inspector, according to city officials. He had worked until 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The department’s head, Carlton Williams, said Wagenhoffer did everything he could to protect people.
“We strive to protect our citizens by enforcing the building codes. And that’s what Ron did,” Williams said. “He was a dedicated civil servant who loved his job.”