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Inspector: Philly collapse 'wasn't my fault'

PHILADELPHIA -- A building inspector who had visited a demolition site before a brick wall collapsed, killing six people, left a cellphone video message before his apparent suicide this week saying the collapse "wasn't my fault," the mayor's spokesman said.

Inspector Ronald Wagenhoffer "says that he can't sleep," spokesman Mark McDonald said Friday. "He says that he was devastated by the deaths and injuries at the scene."

McDonald said Wagenhoffer also says on the video that he "wished that he'd been more diligent." "He wished that he'd gotten out of a truck at some point in time," McDonald said, "but it's not connected to any particular event. There's no mention of May 14. And he never says that he never inspected the site."

Wagenhoffer inspected the downtown site before and after demolition work began in February and visited an attached, related job site on May 14 following a complaint.

A four-story brick wall collapsed June 5, burying 19 people inside a one-story Salvation Army thrift shop next door. Besides the six people who died, 13 were injured.

Wagenhoffer, a veteran inspector, was found dead in his truck Wednesday night, hours after finishing his last shift. Police said they believe he shot himself in the chest.

According to McDonald, Wagenhoffer made two brief videos, each 20 to 30 seconds long. The first was for his wife and young son, McDonald said, and the second described his thoughts on the collapse.


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