A police officer in Pennsylvania died in the line of duty over the weekend after he was shot multiple times.
The fallen officer is being hailed a hero as his alleged shooter faces a slew of charges, including murder.
Chris Fitzgerald, 31, had been an officer on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia for less than two years before he was gunned down on Saturday, Feb. 18, by 18-year-old Miles Pfeffer, authorities say.
“Not all heroes wear capes and Chris definitely was a hero to this community,” Fitzgerald’s cousin Juan Marrero told CBS News.
The shooting happened around 7 p.m. after Fitzgerald attempted to stop three people near the boundary of the university campus for reasons that remain unclear at this time. Pfeffer was among the three, according to police reports.
By the time Fitzgerald neared the group, one individual had walked away, and the other two began running. Those two were Pfeffer and his younger brother, according to investigators. When the younger brother ducked into an alleyway, Fitzgerald kept chasing Pfeffer.
At some point during this encounter Fitzgerald and the teen are thought to have engaged in a brief struggle, and Pfeffer, who is white, fired at Fitzgerald, which was caught on surveillance video, WTXF reports. The officer reportedly fell to the ground and Pfeffer stood over him and “fired several more shots into the face and head area.”
After the shooting, Pfeffer reportedly sifted through Fitzgerald’s pockets and tried to take his gun, an action police say was caught on body camera. Affidavits say after the shooting Pfeffer then carjacked another person. The 18-year-old was heard on video saying, “Give me the keys or I’ll kill you,” during the carjacking. Pfeffer reportedly then fled the scene before calling his mother, who picked him up in the city and drove him back to their 20-acre Boxley Farm property in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
A student living in the area claimed to have heard the gunshots.
“I heard like eight gunshots,” an unnamed student told CBS News.
On the morning of Feb. 19, several law enforcement agencies tracked Pfeffer down to his home. Pfeffer lived on a large property where authorities told WTXF the teen had a history of run-ins with police.
Pfeffer’s neighbor told WTXF he’s seen a lot of police at the home in the past.
Upon Pfeffer’s arrest, he was handcuffed with the cuffs that belonged to Fitzgerald. He was taken to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on Feb 20. He faces charges of murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery, carjacking and weapons crimes, according to The Associated Press. Pfeffer, whose social media depicts him showing off his Ducati motorcycle and in other shots fanning bands of currency, previously had been charged with making terroristic threats in connection with bomb threats at a Bucks County high school last year.
The officer was married and had four children ranging from 14 to 7. In the wake of Fitzgerald’s murder, the community has shown him and his family an outpouring of support. On Monday, the location where Fitzgerald was killed was transformed into a makeshift memorial filled with roses, balloons and supportive messages.
“Officer Fitzgerald gave his life to selflessly serve and defend this community. The courage and bravery he displayed highlights the day-to-day sacrifice made by our Temple University Police Officers to keep our community safe…He was a father, a husband, a son, a colleague, and a friend,” Temple University Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin said in a statement.
Fitzgerald comes from a family of law enforcement. His father, Dr. Joel Fitzgerald Sr. previously served as the police chief in Fort Worth, Texas.
“We honor Officer Fitzgerald’s selfless service and dedication to protecting and serving the public. His memory will live on in the hearts of those who knew him and in the community, he served,” the Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement to Fox News.
Fitzgerald Sr. was born in Philadelphia and worked as a police officer there for 17 years. He currently serves as the Chief of Police for Denver, Colorado’s Regional Transportation District (RTD). The agency released a statement regarding Fitzgerald Sr’s son’s fatal shooting.
“RTD is deeply saddened to learn about the tragic and unimaginable loss of Chief Fitzgerald’s son Christopher, a police officer, who was killed in the line of duty. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Fitzgerald family and all those mourning Christopher.”
Fitzgerald’s death was the first time an officer for Temple University was killed in the line of duty.
The Philadelphia District Attorney told CBS News, Pfeffer is ineligible for release on bail.
Juan Marrero speaking out for Fitzgerald’s family described the slain father of four as the perfect dad.
“He’s the perfect dad to his beautiful kids and does everything for them kids. I don’t know how they’re taking it right now that their dad is not coming home,” Marrero said.
A GoFundMe has been set up for Fitzgerald’s family which has raised more than $253,000 so far.