Two short videos from L&I inspector before suicide

L&I inspector Ronald Wagenhoffer captured from his facebook page.
L&I inspector Ronald Wagenhoffer captured from his facebook page.
Posted: June 16, 2013

Moments before he shot himself to death, a city building inspector made two short videos - one intended for his wife and son, the other saying he was devastated by the fatal building collapse on Market Street and adding, "It wasn't my fault," city officials said Friday.

Mayor Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, said he had listened to both videos recorded by Ronald Wagenhoffer, 52, before he shot himself in the chest Wednesday night while sitting in a pickup truck in upper Roxborough.

McDonald said it appeared that Wagenhoffer had recorded the videos by putting a smartphone onto his dashboard.

"He starts by saying that he's been having trouble sleeping," McDonald said. "He went on to say that he was devastated by the deaths and injuries, and then he said, 'It wasn't my fault.' He then goes on to talk briefly about how he wished he had done more. He made some reference to wishing that he had gotten out of his truck at some point in time, and, roughly, that's it."

McDonald said the administration would not release the videos. But he said he decided to release the isolated quote - "It wasn't my fault" - to counter a report by NBC10.

The station reported that Wagenhoffer said in the video, "It was my fault. I should have looked at those guys working, and I didn't. . . . I'm sorry."

NBC10's vice president of news, Anzio Williams, said Friday that the station was standing by its report. He said the station would not have quoted Wagenhoffer's comments unless one of its staff members had heard them.

Williams questioned the administration's decision not to release the entire video.

"We don't do that," McDonald said. "It's a man's final words. . . . They weren't intended for NBC10. They got it directly wrong. They have smeared the man, who has not even had a funeral service yet. We feel compelled to correct that, and that's all we're doing with it."

McDonald declined to discuss any aspect of the video intended for Wagenhoffer's widow and son.

Wagenhoffer was the Licenses and Inspections official identified in city records as having visited a demolition site at 22d and Market Streets on May 14 in response to complaints about unsafe conditions.

A May 15 photograph from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration shows that at the time, two smaller buildings at the site had been reduced to rubble and a four-story building was largely intact, awaiting demolition. Wagenhoffer decided that the complaint was unfounded, though he appeared to focus on whether the project was properly permitted.

Three weeks later, on June 5, one side of the larger building, a four-story brick wall, collapsed onto a Salvation Army thrift shop, killing six people and injuring 13 others. City records showed no subsequent inspections.

Robert J. Mongeluzzi, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of several victims of the building collapse, said he would seek a copy of the video "to determine if it sheds light regarding the cause of this tragedy."


Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885

or warnerb@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Ben Finley contributed

to this article.

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