An 18-year-old man is set to be charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a Temple University police officer, the Philadelphia district attorney’s office said Sunday.
The suspect, identified as Miles Pfeffer, also faces charges of murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery, carjacking, and weapons crimes in the death of officer Christopher Fitzgerald, according to the district attorney.
Pfeffer was arrested in a multi-agency effort at his Bucks County home on Sunday morning without incident, the U.S. Marshals Service said. The 18-year-old was taken into custody using a pair of Fitzgerald’s handcuffs.
“It’s a tradition that we do any time there’s a fallen officer,” Supervisor Deputy U.S Marshal Rob Clark said, according to WPVI-TV.
Multiple weapons were also seized from the home, which belongs to Pfeffer’s mother, sources told CBS Philadelphia. The mother, who was home at the time of the arrest, was also taken into custody for questioning.
Pfeffer is not eligible for bail, officials confirmed. Sources told FOX 29 that he was known to local law enforcement in Bucks County.
Fitzgerald, 31, was fatally wounded while responding to an incident near campus on Saturday night, police said.
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by FOX 29, the suspect was caught on video surveillance firing at Fitzgerald after a brief pursuit on foot and struggle. It alleges that, after Fitzgerald fell to the ground, the suspect stood “over him and [fired] several more shots into the face and head area.”
A Temple student told CBS Philadelphia that the gunfire had startled her. “I heard like eight gunshots,” she said. “Just in shock, couldn’t believe it was happening so close to us.”
“Pfeffer is also alleged to have attempted to rob Officer Fitzgerald of his gun and to have gone through his pockets, while the officer was laying on the ground and fatally wounded,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a Sunday statement. “Pfeffer is further alleged to have committed a carjacking a short time after, close to the location of the officer’s murder.”
The affidavit goes on to say that the suspect can be heard on video confronting the carjacking victim, telling them, “Give me the keys, or I’ll kill you.” After fleeing in the vehicle, according to the affidavit, the suspect was then picked up by his mother, who took him home.
Fitzgerald joined the university police in October 2021, the department said Sunday. Jason Wingard, Temple University’s president, said he was “heartbroken” over the incident, calling it “a gut-wrenching reminder of our police officers’ daily bravery and sacrifices to protect our students, faculty, staff and community.”
“Officer Fitzgerald gave his life to selflessly serve and defend this community,” Jennifer Griffin, the university’s vice president for public safety, said in a statement. “This loss leaves an enormous hole in all of our hearts. He was a father, a husband, a son, a colleague, and a friend.”
Fitzgerald was also the son of the Fort Worth Police Department’s former chief, Joel Fitzgerald, officials confirmed to KUSA. On Sunday, the Fort Worth Police Department issued a statement on Fitzgerald’s death, saying they honored his “selfless service and dedication to protecting and serving the public.”
Fitzgerald’s death marks the first fatal shooting of a campus police officer at Temple University in more than three decades, Ken Kaiser, the university’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“It just shakes everybody to the core,” Kaiser said.
Fitzgerald leaves behind a wife and four children, according to a GoFundMe set up for his family.
“Not all heroes wear capes, and Chris definitely was a hero to this community,” Fitzgerald’s cousin told CBS Philadelphia. “He just didn’t have a cape.”