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Inspector commits suicide following building collapse

Men work at the scene of the building collapse.

Men work at the scene of the building collapse.

PHILADELPHIA — The city building inspector who checked a Philadelphia building before it collapsed last week, killing six people, has died of an apparent suicide, local media reported.

The inspector died of a gunshot wound to the chest last night, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, citing law enforcement sources. He was found dead inside his vehicle in a wooded section of Shawmont Avenue in the Roxborough neighbourhood of Philadelphia, the report said.

Police confirmed to Reuters that a suicide had taken place at that location but said they could not confirm the identity of the person who died.

Local affiliates for the ABC, CBS and NBC television networks also reported that the suicide victim was a city inspector who had inspected the building before it collapsed.

Earlier this week, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced plans to convene a grand jury to investigate the extent of responsibility for last week’s building collapse, which killed six people and injured 13 others.

Sean Benschop, who was operating the crane when the Market Street building in Centre City fell, is the sole person charged so far in the case. He is being held without bail on charges of involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, causing a catastrophe and risking a catastrophe.

The scope of the grand jury may include a look at the role of city agencies and their policies, Williams said.

The four-story building was being demolished and collapsed onto a Salvation Army Thrift Store next door.

The building had been issued a demolition permit on February 1 and later that month passed a check by the inspector who is now dead, the Inquirer said. (Reuters)

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