SCHENECTADY — City Building Inspector Eric Shilling died unexpectedly over the weekend, city officials confirmed Monday.
Shilling, who moved from Saratoga and began working for the city about five years ago, was remembered during Monday’s City Council meeting. Multiple officials said they were told he died Friday night, though the city had not been officially notified by Shilling’s family.
“We’ve been made aware that Eric Shilling has passed away, but we haven’t been officially told anything by his family, so at this point we have no comment,” City Attorney Carl Falotico said Monday afternoon. The existing staff will run the codes enforcement department, he said.
City Council President Leesa Perazzo delivered an emotional tribute to Shilling at the start of Monday night’s Council meeting, calling him a dedicated and responsive employee.
“He really just loved the city so much,” Perazzo said. “He’ll be deeply missed.”
A couple of other Council members offered their condolences for Shilling’s family during the meeting. Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett, who sat in for Mayor Gary McCarthy on Monday night, said he was saddened to hear the news.
“He was always willing to help. He had a lot of energy,” Bennett said. McCarthy was in Albany for a New York Conference of Mayors meeting.
As building inspector, Shilling oversaw the codes enforcement department. Officials there performed inspections on city structures and would often make determinations on a structure’s stability in the aftermath of a fire or other damaging event.
“I couldn’t be more heartbroken. He was a man filled with integrity and I greatly admired him for that,” Perazzo said in an interview Monday afternoon. “His position was one that really I think truly hinges on a person’s integrity. I never questioned that in Eric.”
Shilling took on a more prominent role in certain cases, such as when a vacant Paige Street home exploded after the city failed to shut off a gas line, or in the aftermath of the massive Jay Street fire that killed four people in March 2015.
Hours after the fire, Shilling told The Gazette that codes enforcement officials inspected all 20 apartments at 104 Jay St. the day before the blaze consumed the building. Sixty more people were displaced.
Investigators ruled the cause of the fire was accidental, saying it started in 104 Jay St. Several lawsuits have since been filed against the building owner and property manager.
An ongoing investigation by the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office is probing issues beyond the fire’s cause. District Attorney Robert Carney said in late January that he expects to be in a position to speak about the investigation further before the fire’s two-year anniversary in March.