The 18-year-old suspect accused of fatally shooting a Temple University police officer in the head over the weekend stood over the officer and shot him three more times as the cop lay on the ground near the Philadelphia campus before trying to steal the fallen officer’s gun, officials said on Tuesday.
Philadelphia police released the new details during a press conference on the death of Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald, who had responded Saturday night to a robbery call in an area that officials say has seen a spike in carjackings and robberies.
While responding to the call, police said Fitzgerald spotted three teenagers dressed in all black and wearing masks to cover their faces. The officer approached the trio but they tried to flee.
Fitzgerald called in a foot pursuit over his radio and chased after the teens. He caught up to the 18-year-old alleged gunman, later identified as Miles Pfeffer, and ordered him to get on the ground, police said.
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Pfeffer ignored the officer’s orders and pulled out a gun, according to authorities. The suspect fired at Fitzgerald, striking the officer in the head and torso.
When Fitzgerald fell to the ground, Pfeffer shot the officer three more times, officials said.
Pfeffer initially fled the scene, according to police, but returned to search through the fallen officer’s pockets. Officials said he tried to steal Fitzgerald’s gun.
After shooting the officer, police said the suspect carjacked a driver at gunpoint, threatening to shoot and kill them.
Fitzgerald, a married father, was rushed to a Temple University Hospital, where he later died. He served on the Temple University police force since October 2021 and was the son of a former police chief of Fort Worth, Texas.
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Officials said Pfeffer was identified as a suspect after the two other teens he was with were detained and told police his name.
Less than 12 hours after the shooting, U.S. Marshals captured Pfeffer in Buckingham Township, Pennsylvania. Officers used Fitzgerald’s handcuffs during the arrest.
Pfeffer is facing multiple charges, including murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery and carjacking, officials said. He is not eligible for release on bail.
Temple police said the department is working to hire more police to help keep its campus safe, adding that it has become difficult to find quality people who want to be a police officer.
Meanwhile, city and school officials said Philadelphia has a major crime problem, with Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner repeatedly blaming the lack of gun control.