Philadelphia mayor pushes gun control at Temple University shooting press conference
Jim Kenney advocated for gun control during a press conference on details surrounding the shooting of a Temple University police officer.
It’s been almost a year since a Pennsylvania teenager allegedly gunned down and killed an on-duty Temple University police officer during a botched carjacking attempt.
Now, the family of fallen Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald is calling on Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to pursue the death penalty against the now-19-year-old suspect, Miles Pfeffer, of Buckingham Township.
“In this case, we’re not going away. We’re not a family that [Krasner] can just manipulate or maneuver around,” Fitzgerald’s father, retired Waterloo (Iowa) Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald Sr., a Philadelphia native, told Fox News Digital. “We have a strong, generational history within the city of Philadelphia, and we’re not going to allow our son’s assassination to be handled in any way outside of just a death penalty case. We just won’t allow it to happen.”
Pfeffer was charged in February 2023 with murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, robbery, carjacking, possession of an instrument of crime, and other related charges, the district attorney’s office said at the time.
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Miles Pfeffer allegedly shot Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald in February 2023. (handout)
Fitzgerald, a 31-year-old husband and father of five, had been trying to stop three teenagers dressed in black from committing a carjacking on a Saturday night along the edge of Temple’s campus.
He pursued the suspects — two of whom were minors who hid — until he caught up with Pfeffer, who allegedly shot the officer.
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After Fitzgerald fell to the ground, Pfeffer allegedly shot him several more times in the head and neck area. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The quick apprehensions of two minors initially pursued by slain Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald helped lead to the capture of suspected killer Miles Pfeffer, authorities say. (Philadelphia Police Department/U.S. Marshals)
The now-19-year-old is also accused of robbing Fitzgerald of his gun after shooting him, and authorities say Pfeffer fled the scene and went on to commit a carjacking after killing the officer. U.S. Marshals and Bucks County officers arrested Pfeffer the next day in his hometown of Buckingham Township.
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“We join law enforcement and people across the region in expressing our heartbreak and outrage over this horrific crime. Officer Fitzgerald’s life was ripped from him and his loved ones violently and senselessly,” Krasner said in a statement at the time.
Slain Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald is pictured with his father, Joel Fitzgerald Sr., former police chief of Waterloo, Iowa. (Handout)
The Fitzgerald family is now calling for capital punishment, and they are pointing to Krasner’s opposition to the death penalty as the reason behind significant delays in the case. A preliminary hearing was held last week, and Pfeffer isn’t scheduled to be arraigned until Feb. 13.
“The death penalty is on the books, and it’s on the books for a reason,” Fitzgerald Sr. said. “It’s a tool that the DA’s office can level up against people who fit the prongs of a capital murder case.”
“This case was no less than an assassination, and it fits the prongs of the capital murder case. So I’m curious as to why it took so long.”
Slain Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald was a 31-year-old husband and father of five. (Handout)
Just days before the DA’s office filed charges against Pfeffer, Krasner issued a statement in support of Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s opposition to the death penalty.
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“Given Governor Shapiro’s previous and consistent support for upholding the death penalty as Attorney General, today’s announcement that Shapiro now opposes the death penalty is a very welcome and encouraging evolution in his position,” Krasner said in a Feb. 16, 2023, statement.
Pfeffer faces multiple charges, including murder of a law enforcement officer. (U.S. Marshals)
In 2019, Krasner’s office found that 72% of death penalty cases in Philadelphia between 1978 and 2017 were “ultimately overturned,” his office said in a press release.
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“The death penalty in Pennsylvania overwhelmingly applies to Black and brown defendants, mentally impaired defendants, and poor defendants who cannot afford legal counsel and are assigned court-appointed lawyers. It does not do what the law requires — apply the ultimate penalty to the worst offenders who commit the worst homicides. Rather, it applies the ultimate penalty to the poorest and most impaired defendants,” the DA said.
The Fitzgerald family is calling for capital punishment, and they are pointing to Krasner’s opposition to the death penalty as the reason behind significant delays in the case. (Handout)
But Fitzgerald is arguing that his son’s case is an example of exactly why the death penalty should be sought in the right circumstances.
“This is an unusual case. You have a male of privilege that comes from outside of the city of Philadelphia. He’s preying on the citizens within the city of Philadelphia. … He’s 19 right now. He has already taken a significant step to [commit] a crime of significant violence like this,” Fitzgerald Sr. said, adding that he does not think anyone “would stop to think that this case doesn’t deserve a death penalty.”
Retired Waterloo (Iowa) Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald Sr. said his whole family was proud of Christopher Fitzgerald, who “wanted to be a police officer for many years” and follow in the footsteps of his father and mother, who worked as a homicide detective. (Handout)
The retired police chief said his whole family was proud of Fitzgerald, who “wanted to be a police officer for many years” and in the footsteps of his father and mother, who worked as a homicide detective.
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He volunteered in a running club as a child and wanted to “make a difference in the community.”
“He was always laughing. He was always singing, and he can’t sing, by the way,” Fitzgerald Sr. said. “… We just try to be there for [his children] and keep his memory as alive as we can and just remind them of what a special daddy [he was].”
Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for Fox News Digital and FOX Business. Email tips to [email protected] or on Twitter at @audpants.