An 18-year-old man was busted Sunday in the fatal shooting of a Temple University cop — as it surfaced that the alleged killer tried to rob the tragic officer as he lay dying on the ground, police said.
Accused gunman Miles Pfeffer — who was taken into custody by authorities using the fallen officer’s handcuffs — went on to coolly commit a nearby carjacking in Philadelphia after the shooting, too, authorities said.
Pfeffer was arrested after multiple agencies, including US Marshals, converged on his home in Buckingham Township in Bucks County around 7 a.m., the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office said.
He had been wanted for the cold-blooded slaying of college cop and married dad of four Christopher Fitzgerald, the 31-year-old son of a former Philadelphia police officer who also previously served as the police chief of four US cities.
Fitzgerald was shot in the head around 7 p.m. Saturday while responding to an incident near Temple’s campus, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital, becoming the first Temple officer to die in the line of duty, the school said.
Pfeffer is facing charges of murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery, carjacking and illegal weapons possession in the case, the DA’s office said.
The suspect was so heartless that he tried to rob Fitzgerald as the cop lay on the ground after the shooting, DA Larry Krasner said in a statement.
“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,” Krasner said Sunday.
“Pfeffer is further alleged to have committed a carjacking a short time after, close to the location of the officer’s murder.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Saturday night that the officer was killed when he tried to stop a carjacking. The university said in a statement shortly after the shooting that Fitzgerald was responding to a robbery at a convenience store. Police have not confirmed that account, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The fallen cop was heard over police radio stating he was chasing down suspects, but by the time other Temple officers arrived, they found Fitzgerald with multiple gunshot wounds to his face and upper body, the Inquirer said.
Pfeffer was allegedly involved in a later armed carjacking of an Infiniti Q60 about a block from where Fitzgerald was found, according to video obtained by authorities, the newspaper said. The accused gunman allegedly had a juvenile record in Bucks County.
Fitzgerald had been with the university police department since October 2021.
“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.”
The fallen officer was the son of Joel Fitzgerald, who led the police department in Fort Worth, Texas, for almost four years.
Fort Worth police said in a statement that officers were “deeply saddened” by the loss of Christopher Fitzgerald.
“Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and fellow officers during this difficult time and we extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” the department wrote on Twitter.
Joel Fitzgerald also served as police chief in the Houston suburb of Missouri City, Allentown, Pa., and Waterloo, Iowa, according to an online resume.
Before that, he worked as a Philadelphia cop for years.
University president Jason Wingard called the shooting “a gut-wrenching reminder of our police officers’ daily bravery and sacrifices to protect our students, faculty, staff and community” against “an unprecedented epidemic of violence.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said he and first lady Lori Shapiro were “devastated for the family of the Temple University police officer who was killed in the line of duty tonight, bravely serving his community.
“We’re sending prayers to his loved ones, Temple Police, and the entire @TempleUniv community,” Shapiro said in a tweet. “May his memory be a blessing.”