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‘Taken Like He Was an Animal In the Street’: Family of Philly Cop Mourn Father of Four Reportedly Killed By Affluent White Teenager with Troubled Past

The family of slain Philadelphia police officer Chris Fitzgerald, who was killed in the line of duty, is speaking out about their loss as more details about his alleged killer reveal he was already known to police.

“Nobody deserves to die like that. The city has to do better,” Chris Fitzgerald’s widow Marissa told WPVI. The family laid Fitzgerald to rest on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.

Fitzgerald, 31, was a Temple University police officer. He allegedly was gunned down on Feb. 18 by Miles Pfeffer, 18. Fitzgerald was trying to stop three people suspected of a crime near the university when he was shot multiple times in the face.

“Philadelphia lost a champion. They lost somebody who you want working in this city to try to help correct some of the ills that we see,” said Chris Fitzgerald’s father, Joel Fitzgerald.  

Officer Chris Fitzgerald, 31, was allegedly shot in the face by Miles Pfeffer, 18, on Feb. 18. (Photo: Twitter/BGallagerTV, Philadelphia Police Dept.)

Pfeffer, the man accused in the shooting, faces charges of murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery, carjacking and weapons crimes.

The 18-year-old was known to area police for his reported criminal history. On Nov. 16, 2021, Pfeffer was one of three students who used an online reporting tool claiming a homemade pipe bomb was set to detonate in a school bathroom at Central Bucks South, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Another student reportedly planned to bring a gun to the school that day. The threats were later deemed unfounded.

In February 2022, authorities charged Pfeffer with terroristic threats and making false reports. He received one month of probation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

A student at the school who claims to know Pfeffer was surprised to learn he is the alleged gunman.

“I did not expect it. I was shocked he was capable of something like this,” Makayla McLaughlin said.

According to news reports, Pfeffer bounced between his parents’ homes. His mother lived on a 15-acre farm in Bucks County Pennsylvania. According to U.S. Census data, Bucks County has around 640,000 residents and is predominantly white at 87 percent, with Black people making up only 4 percent. The average median household income is $99,302, while the average median household in Philadelphia is $52,649.

Pfeffer’s father lived in the city of Philadelphia, nearly an hour south of Bucks County.

McLaughlin described Pfeffer as troubled.

“Definitely a troubled kid. He had been suspended a couple times, expelled in ninth grade. He is definitely well known in Doylestown for hanging out with a rough group,” McLaughlin said.

The night of the shooting, Fitzgerald chased after Pfeffer while investigating a possible crime near the college campus. Pfeffer and two others, one of them believed to be Pfeffer’s brother, drew suspicion from Fitzgerald after they were “acting shady,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

When Fitzgerald caught up to Pfeffer, a scuffle ensued, and multiple gunshots were heard soon afterward.

Fitzgerald reportedly fell to the ground, and Pfeffer stood over him and “fired several more shots into the face and head area” WTXF reports.

After the shooting, Pfeffer reportedly went through Fitzgerald’s pockets and tried to take his service weapon. The 18-year-old then carjacked another person and threatened to kill them if they did not give up their keys. Pfeffer’s actions were captured on surveillance video before he drove away to his mother’s farm.

The following morning on Feb. 19, multiple law enforcement agencies tracked Pfeffer to his home, where he was arrested using Fitzgerald’s handcuffs.

“My husband was a very good man and a very good father. A very great son, a very good brother, and it’s a shame he was just taken like he was an animal in the street,” Marissa Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald was a father of four, and his career as a police officer was one of his father’s proudest moments.

“No prouder moment in my life than to place a badge on my son’s chest when he graduated the police academy,” Joel Fitzgerald said.

Joel Fitzgerald also has an extensive career in law enforcement. He served the Philadelphia Police Department for 17 years and currently serves as the chief of police for Denver, Colorado’s Regional Transportation District.

“He is still here with each and every one of us. He’s going to be here protecting and looking over each Temple student, “Joel Fitzgerald said of his late son.

Pfeffer’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 7.

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