City inspector who reviewed 22nd & Market site commits suicide

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FILE - In this file photo provided by Jordan McLaughlin, a dust cloud rises as people run from the scene of a building collapse on the edge of downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. An official says an inspector who surveyed a Philadelphia building before it collapsed last week, killing six people, has committed suicide. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison says the inspector was found fatally shot in a pickup truck Wednesday night, June 12, 2013. The man was a Department of Licenses and Inspections employee who had inspected the building May 14. (AP Photo/Jordan McLaughlin, File)

The city inspector who examined the demolition site and 22nd and Market streets weeks before it collapsed committed suicide Wednesday night, administration officials confirmed Thursday.

Ronald Wagenhoffer, 52, shot himself around 9 p.m., Gillison said. He has a wife and a son.

“He was a dedicated civil service employee who loved his job,” said Everett Gillison, Mayor Nutter’s chief of staff. “We have now lost seven lives” in connection with the Center City building collapse that killed six people last week.

Following citizen complaints about the demolition site at 2134 Market St., Wagenhoffer reviewed the building for the Department of Licenses & Inspections on May 14 and found no violations. At that point, demolition had not begun at 2136 Market St., the part of the site that would lead to the tragedy. 

On June 5, a freestanding wall from the 2136 Market building fell onto a Salvation Army store next door and killed six people, including the 24-year-old daughter of City Treasurer Nancy Winkler.

Nutter is in Chicago for a Clinton Global Initiative conference. Gillison said Nutter had been in communication with city officials “pretty much all night" and has spoken with Wagenhoffer's wife, Michele.

Nutter will return to Philadelphia this evening after the Clinton event, mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said. 

Gillison made a plea for news media to be respectful during the tragedy and said the city has stationed police personnel at Wagenhoffer’s home.

“Treat others like you’d like to be treated if it was happening to you,” he said. “Now is not the time nor the place for the kind of frenzy that seems to be going on here.”

“You have to understand that there are now five investigations going on,” Gillison said. “You will get the answers to the questions you have at the appropriate time and at the appropriate place.”

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