PHILADELPHIA – A veteran Philadelphia building inspector who apparently committed suicide had inspected the site of a deadly building collapse twice in February and an adjacent, related project in mid-May.
The June 5 collapse killed six people when a four-story building tumbled onto a small thrift shop. The demolition site consisted of three attached buildings.
City records show that Ronald Wagenhoffer inspected the site before work began on Feb. 12 and again on Feb. 25, after it got underway. He returned to the strip of attached storefronts on May 14 after a citizen complained about the demolition being conducted at the building next door to the one that collapsed. Wagenhoffer found the complaint unfounded.
Mayor Michael Nutter called the death Wednesday of 52-year-old Wagenhoffer “astounding” and “painful.”
“We had six people who died in the building collapse, and now we’ve had another person perish because of this particular tragedy,” Nutter said in Chicago, where he was attending a conference Thursday. “This was just astounding to find this out.”
Wagenhoffer was not the person who approved the demolition permit.
Wagenhoffer had continued to work after the building collapse June 5, and finished his last shift Wednesday, just hours before his death. Police found his body in his vehicle at about 9 p.m., about a mile from his home. He died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot to the chest, authorities said.
House OKs sentence for military assault
WASHINGTON – Angered by the epidemic of sexual assault in the military, the House on Thursday endorsed a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for a member of the armed services convicted of rape or sexual assault in a military court.
By voice vote, the House approved the additional punishment as part of a series of steps lawmakers have taken to tackle the growing problem of sexual assault. The provisions are contained in a sweeping defense policy bill for the 2014 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
“Being in a military uniform should not be a get out of jail card,” Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said as the House began work on more than 170 amendments to the defense bill.
Lawmakers hope to complete the measure today but must reconcile it with a Senate version.
Caterpillar ending Boy Scouts support
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Caterpillar Inc. is no longer giving money to the Boy Scouts because the organization discriminates against homosexuals, a spokeswoman for the Illinois-based heavy equipment manufacturer confirmed Thursday.
The company’s move wasn’t directly tied to the recent Boy Scouts decision to continue to bar homosexual adults from roles within the organization while allowing openly gay children to be Scouts. Instead, spokeswoman Rachel Potts said, the company decided to cut off funding while reviewing a request for $25,000 that came in last year from a local group in Illinois.
That decision was never announced publicly or communicated to the Boy Scouts of America, only to the local group, she said. But she added that the Boy Scouts’ policy that continues to bar homosexual adults from working in the organization is “discriminatory.”
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