The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

June 13, 2013

Inspector in Philadelphia collapse commits suicide

— PHILADELPHIA (AP) — 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.

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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