Building Collapse: L&I Inspector Dead From Gunshot Wound to Chest [UPDATED]
Fifty-two-year-old Ronald Wagenhoffer, who worked for the Department of Licenses and Inspections for 16 years, was found dead last night in his car in Roxborough. The cause of death is being labeled a suicide, though only the medical examiner can make the final determination. Looks pretty definite, though, given a text he sent his wife.
From the Inquirer:
The city’s records say a demolition permit was issued for the building on Feb. 1. The site passed an inspection by Wagenhoffer later that month, and he “gave notice of demo letters” to adjoining properties, the records say.
He also noted in February that “no work started before the permitted date” at 2134 Market St., the property next to the collapsed building. A demolition permit was also issued for that address.
Wagenhoffer then went to the site on May 14, after a citizen complained about the 2134 property. He found no violations and the complaint was resolved as “unfounded,” the records say.
Also in May, Wagenhoffer waived a framing/close-in inspection for 2134 Market, according to the records.
No one from L&I visited the property between May 14 and the collapse. City officials have said that buildings being demolished get two inspections — one before demolition work begins, and one when the property is mostly torn down. The city announced new regulations for demolition work after the incident.
“This man did nothing wrong,” Gillison said. “The department did what it was supposed to do under the code that existed at the time.”
People may believe that Wagenhoffer’s suicide was an admission of guilt, though. But let’s not jump to conclusions based on manner of death. People who commit suicide don’t generally do so prompted only by a single event, even one as traumatic as this one. It may be that Wagenhoffer had a history of depression or that there were other contributing factors.
As DA Seth Williams remarked in his press conference the other day, Philadelphians are not generally patient types. But we may have to wait a little on this one.
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