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Hero Down: Temple University Police Officer Christopher ‘Chris’ Fitzgerald Murdered By Gunman

Philadelphia, PA – Temple University Police Department (TUPD) Officer Christopher “Chris” Fitzgerald was murdered in the line of duty while trying to apprehend a robbery suspect on Saturday night.

The 31-year-old officer responded to the area of Montgomery Avenue and 17th Street at approximately 7 p.m. on Feb. 18 after receiving a report of a robbery that occurred at a nearby convenience store, WCAU reported.

According to an arrest affidavit, the suspect, later identified as 18-year-old Miles Pfeffer, took off running when Officer Fitzgerald arrived at the scene, FOX News reported.

Security footage showed the officer in a physical encounter with the suspect just before Pfeffer pulled out a handgun and shot him in the head, according to the news outlet.

The arrest affidavit said Officer Fitzgerald collapsed to the ground, at which point Pfeffer allegedly stood over him and shot him several more times in his face and head, FOX News reported.

After fatally wounding the young officer, Pfeffer then allegedly rifled through the officer’s pockets and tried to steal his duty weapon, WPVI reported.

Security footage showed the gunman carjacking another victim near the murder scene a short while later, according to investigators.

“Give me the keys, give me the keys. I’ll kill you, swear to God,” the suspect was heard saying in the footage, according to WPVI.

Officer Fitzgerald was rushed to Temple University Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Investigators later located the stolen car in the area of Sedgley Avenue and 30th Street.

A multiagency team of law enforcement officers apprehended the alleged gunman in the 2300-block of Quarry Road in Buckingham Township at about 7:12 a.m. on Feb. 19, WPVI.

He was taken into custody using Officer Fitzgerald’s handcuffs.

“It’s a tradition that we do any time there’s a fallen officer, and we thought it was important to remember Officer Fitzgerald… by placing his cuffs on the suspect,” U.S. Marshal Supervisor Deputy Rob Clark told WPVI.

Pfeffer will be charged with murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, carjacking, robbery, and weapons-related charges, according to WPVI.

Sources said Pfeffer claimed he melted the firearm he used to murder Officer Fitzgerald, WPVI reported.

Police located a large burn pit on Pfeffer’s mother’s property in Bucks County during a search on Sunday, according to the news outlet.

Investigators said they seized multiple weapons from the family home, CBS News reported.

Pfeffer’s mother was also taken into custody for questioning, according to the news outlet.

Investigators said local police are familiar with Pfeffer due to his history of so-called nuisance crimes, CBS News reported.

Officer Fitzgerald’s murder marked the first line-of-duty shooting death in the history of the Temple University Police Department, WPVI reported.

The two-year department veteran is the son of former Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, according to WFAA.

He leaves behind his wife, four children, and his parents.

The fallen hero’s children range in age from seven to 14, WCAU reported.

“Officer Fitzgerald gave his life to selflessly serve and defend this community,” Temple University said in a statement to WPVI. “The courage and bravery he displayed highlights the day-to-day sacrifice made by our Temple University Police Officers to keep our community safe.”

“This loss leaves an enormous hole in all of our hearts. He was a father, a husband, a son, a colleague, and a friend,” the university’s statement read. “There are simply no words that can make sense of such a tragedy. It tears at our sense of community, and wounds us to our very soul. Temple has lost an officer and hero to senseless violence. Our thoughts are with the victim’s family, friends and the entire Temple community during this tremendously difficult time.”

Officer Fitzgerald’s family said he was working an overtime shift when he was murdered, WCAU reported.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a tweet he was “shocked & heartbroken” over the loss of Officer Fitzgerald, and vowed his office “will extend all support we have to family, friends & colleagues of the officer.”

“We are already collaborating with [Philadelphia police] to bring the responsible parties to justice,” Krasner added.

A memorial of photos, candles, and flowers has been growing near the site of Officer Fitzgerald’s murder, WPVI reported.

“He is the guy that we all strive to be,” Temple University Police Association President Alec Shaffer, told the news outlet. “He is a family man. When he wasn’t working, wasn’t serving this community, he was still out in the community doing other community events. When we did union events, he was always the first one there, always willing to help out and always engaging the community.”

A fundraising campaign established to help Officer Fitzgerald’s family in the wake of his murder has raised more than $222,000 so far.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Temple University Police Department (TUPD) Officer Christopher “Chris” Fitzgerald, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Officer Christopher Fitzgerald, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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