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February 21, 2023

A Philly cop's quick response led to the arrest of the man who allegedly killed Temple police officer Chris Fitzgerald

Miles Pfeffer, 18, of Bucks County, was taken into custody the day after the shooting. Investigators credited Corporal Theresa Brooks for detaining two teens who had been with him

Investigations Shootings
Temple police shooting Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Miles Pfeffer, the 18-year-old man Bucks County man accused of killing Temple University police officer Christopher Fitzgerald, allegedly threatened to kill another person during a carjacking that followed the shooting, police say.

The Bucks County man accused of killing Temple University police officer Christopher Fitzgerald was caught on video threatening to kill another person during an alleged carjacking that took place minutes after the shooting Saturday night, Philadelphia police said. 

Miles Pfeffer, 18, allegedly stole the car on the 1800 block of North 18th Street – a short distance from where Fitzgerald lie dying – and used it to flee the scene, police said. 

"He is heard on video saying, 'give me the car, I will kill you,'" Philadelphia Police Staff Inspector Ernest Ransom said during a news conference Tuesday. "The pedestrian, in this case, complied, and Pfeffer fled in that vehicle. The vehicle was recovered at the 1900 block of North 30th Street, and the scene was processed."

Pfeffer, who was arrested in Buckingham Township on Sunday morning, has been charged with murder for the death of Fitzgerald, 31, who had been a Temple police officer since October 2021.  

Ransom credited the quick arrest to Philadelphia Police Corporal Theresa Brooks, who responded when Fitzgerald radioed that he was in pursuit of three people suspected of attempting a carjacking on the 1800 block of Montgomery Avenue. Fitzgerald had been patrolling the area alone shortly before 7:15 p.m.; Brooks had been listening to the police radio nearby.  

"When she heard officer Fitzgerald was in a foot pursuit she immediately left the building to provide whatever assistance she could provide," Ransom said. "Corporal Brooks then heard the gunshots and observed two white males fleeing the area. She ordered those males to stop, they complied, and then she detained those males."

Brooks took the teens, ages 16 and 17, in for questioning. This helped investigators identify Pfeffer as the suspect in the shooting.

Video footage shows Fitzgerald ran behind Pfeffer until catching him on the 1700 block of Montgomery Avenue, where he attempted to get Pfeffer onto the ground, police said. A scuffle ensued and Pfeffer allegedly pulled out a gun and shot Fitzgerald several times. After Fitzgerald fell to the ground, Pfeffer shot him three more times, Ransom said. 

The gun has not been recovered by police.

Pfeffer fled to his father's house in North Philadelphia, where he called his mother and arranged a ride to her Bucks County home, investigators said. 

Fitzgerald was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital at 7:27 p.m. 

During Tuesday's press conference, an emotional Jim Kenney urged people to support gun control efforts if they genuinely want to support police officers. 

"We are fighting an uphill battle, and it doesn't have to be this way," Kenney said. "I will continue to call on state lawmakers for sensible gun reforms that will protect our city's residents, including the brave men and women who have taken an oath to protect the peace. You can say you back the blue, but if you don't back gun control and gun availability, you don't back the blue. We owe it to them to do everything we can to stop this nonsense and stop this tragedy."

Temple President Jason Wingard said that the university will share a coordinated plan intended to improve safety in the area in the days to come. There have been recent robberies and carjackings in area where Fitzgerald was killed, police said.

"We are advocating and allocating more resources, more programs, new initiatives, but frankly, it's just not enough," he said. "We're not able to get it done. We can't do it by ourselves. In spite of all those resources, in spite of all those initiatives is not working. We need help. The systemic violence that plagues this city, that plagues North Philadelphia, can't be solved by Temple alone."

Pfeffer also has been charged with robbery, carjacking and theft. Anyone with information about the shooting or carjacking is asked to call police at (215) 204-1234.