The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)
Bucks teen facing murder charges
Police reveal information on how they caught him
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man is facing murder and other charges in the death of a Temple University police officer shot and killed near campus Saturday night, authorities said.
The Philadelphia district attorney’s office said 18-year-old Miles Pfeffer will face charges of murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery, carjacking and weapons crimes in the death of Officer Christopher Fitzgerald, who prosecutors said was shot in the head while responding to an incident near campus.
“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 statement Sunday. “Pfeffer is further alleged to have committed a carjacking a short time after, close to the location of the officer’s murder.”
The Bucks County district attorney’s office said Pfeffer was taken into custody shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday at his Buckingham Township home by township and Philadelphia police as well as state police and federal marshals. “Police used the fallen officer’s handcuffs in placing the suspect under arrest,” county prosecutors said.
Authorities say the quick apprehension of two youths led to the arrest just hours later.
Officer Fitzgerald spotted three people dressed in black and wearing masks Saturday night in an area where there had been a series of robberies and carjackings, police said. He chased the trio, and after two of them hid he continued to pursue the third and was fatally shot.
A patrol supervisor monitoring the police radio rushed to the scene and captured two fleeing youths, ages 16 and 17, who later gave information that led to the arrest of Pfeffer the following morning in Bucks County, Staff Inspector Ernest Ransom, the homicide unit commander, told re
Fitzgerald was the first Temple University officer killed in the line of duty, said Jennifer Griffin, the university’s public safety director. A father of five children, he joined the school’s police force in October 2021.
Police said video from the area shows Fitzgerald catching up with Pfeffer and ordering him to the ground, after which they struggle behind a sport utility vehicle. Pfeffer allegedly pulled a handgun, and police say he shot six times, firing the last three bullets into the officer as he lay on the ground.
“He (Pfeffer) comes back to the officer and then attempts to remove the officer’s handgun, which was unsuccessful,” Ransom said. Running to the next block, Pfeffer allegedly carjacked someone and “is heard on camera saying ‘Give me the car or I will kill you,’” Ransom said.
The weapon used in the crime hasn’t been recovered, police said.
“Officer Fitzgerald gave his life to selflessly serve and defend this community,” Griffin 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.”
University president Jason Wingard said he was “heartbroken” and called the shooting “a gutwrenching reminder of our police officers’ daily bravery and sacrifices to protect our students, faculty, staff and community” as the city and the nation deal with “an unprecedented epidemic of violence.”
Ken Kaiser, the university’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, was quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying it was the first shooting death of a campus officer during his more than 30 years at Temple. “It just shakes everybody to the core,” he said.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro tweeted that he and first lady Lori were “devastated for the family of the Temple University police officer who was killed in the line of duty tonight, bravely serving his community.”
They sent prayers to his family, Temple police and the university community, he added, saying, “May his memory be a blessing.”
Joseph Regan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge, also expressed condolences.
“There are no words to describe the news of another one of our officers being shot,” Regan said in a statement. “This officer is a hero whose legacy and unselfish act will live in our hearts and memories forever.”