Marking a tragic first in university history, a Temple police officer was shot and killed while on duty Saturday night.
The attack happened while the late officer, 31-year-old Christopher Fitzgerald, was investigating an incident near 17th and Montgomery. That’s about four blocks west of the university’s main campus in North Philadelphia.
A person suspected of being the perpetrator was arrested Sunday morning in Bucks County by federal marshals working with other agencies. He will face murder and other charges, per the Philly DA’s Office.
“There are simply no words that can make sense of this tragedy. It tears at our sense of community and safety. We all mourn this unspeakable loss,” Temple President Jason Wingard said in a Saturday night statement.
A memorial to Fitzgerald was set up by the Temple University Police Association near the site of the crime, with flowers and photos of the fallen officer. There’s also a GoFundMe to raise money for funeral services and his family.
The line-of-duty death has shaken up the community. Wingard’s statement encouraged anyone impacted to seek support through the university’s Tuttleman Counseling Services.
Here’s what else we know about Saturday’s fatal shooting.
Who was the officer killed?
Fitzgerald lived in Cobbs Creek and had worked at the Temple Police Department since 2021, according to The Inquirer. His father is a former PPD officer who was the first person of color to become police chief in Allentown, per Lehigh Valley News.
The younger Fitzgerald was an anti-violence advocate and founding member of the Hood 2 Hood Run Series, according to the nonprofit Black Men Run Philly, which mourned the loss in a post on social media.
He had a wife and four children, according to Jennifer Griffin, Temple’s vice president for public safety.
A GoFundMe page set up by the the Temple University Police Association, which describes Fitzgerald as “a loving husband, father, friend, and public servant whose dedication to his family and community was unmatched,” had already raised thousands of dollars in its first few minutes.
Where did the shooting occur?
Temple initially said the shooting took place as the officer was trying to “apprehend a robbery suspect” near 15th and Cecil B. Moore. The university later updated the statement to place the crime scene near 1700 W. Montgomery Ave., right outside the Wagner Institute for Science.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw confirmed the 17th and Montgomery location at a press briefing late Saturday.
What happened before and after the shooting?
Officer Fitzgerald encountered the perpetrator while investigating an incident — possibly a robbery, as referenced above — and was subsequently shot in the head.
Citing surveillance video, police say the shooter then went through Fitzgerald’s pockets while the officer while he was lying fatally wounded on the ground. He then is thought to have committed a carjacking nearby, according to the DA’s Office.
He has been on patrol by himself without a partner, the Temple police union told The Inquirer.
Where was the arrest made?
U.S. marshals served a warrant Sunday morning around 7 a.m in Buckingham Township, a Bucks County municipality just northeast of Doylestown, and made an arrest.
The person arrested is an 18-year-old named Miles Pfeffer, who was taken into custody at his family’s home and then transferred to Philadelphia for prosecution.
He was arraigned on several charges, including:
- Murder of a law enforcement officer
- Carrying a firearm without a license
- Possession of an instrument of crime
Pfeffer’s mother had picked him up in Philadelphia on Saturday night, according to a police affadavit cited by The Inquirer, and driven him back to Bucks County.
How have leaders and officials reacted?
Gov. Josh Shapiro ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Fitzgerald. Elected officials in the city and beyond expressed devastation over the news.