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updated: 6/13/2013 9:16 AM

Inspector in Philadelphia collapse commits suicide

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  • Firefighters view the aftermath of a building collapse, Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Philadelphia. An official says an inspector who surveyed a Philadelphia building before it collapsed last week, killing six people, has committed suicide.

      Firefighters view the aftermath of a building collapse, Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Philadelphia. An official says an inspector who surveyed a Philadelphia building before it collapsed last week, killing six people, has committed suicide.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- An inspector who surveyed a downtown building weeks before it collapsed, killing 6 people, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound a week after the accident, authorities said Thursday.

The 52-year-old man's body was found Wednesday night in a pickup truck with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, according to Philadelphia police. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said the man was a Department of Licenses and Inspections employee who had inspected the building May 14.

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Department employees were being informed of the death Thursday morning and the man's name wasn't immediately being released. Gillison and other city officials have scheduled a news conference for later Thursday morning.

Investigators say a heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet was high on marijuana when a building under demolition collapsed onto a neighboring thrift store on June 5. The operator, Sean Benschop, faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe. His attorney has said he was being made a scapegoat.

The city's top prosecutor has convened a grand jury to investigate whether anyone else should face criminal charges.

A demolition permit indicates that contractor Griffin Campbell was being paid $10,000 for the job. Campbell's lawyer has called him despondent but "absolutely not responsible" for the deaths. On Thursday, he released a statement expressing condolences to the inspector and the families.

"Our heartfelt condolences go to the family of the inspector," attorney Kenneth Edelin said in a statement. "We also continue to pray for the families of those that were lost, and for the health and speedy recovery of those that were injured."

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