Posted February 15, 2024

Forever our hero: Remembering Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald

Fallen Temple University police sergeant will be honored at a plaque dedication on Sunday, the one-year anniversary of his death.

Photography By: 
Joseph V. Labolito

The life and legacy of fallen Temple University Police Sergeant Christopher Fitzgerald will be honored at a plaque dedication service on Sunday, the one-year anniversary of his death. 

Fitzgerald was 31 years old when he was shot and killed in the line of duty on Feb. 18, 2023, in North Philadelphia. Days later, Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin posthumously promoted Fitzgerald’s ranking from officer to sergeant.  

“His death was a terrible loss, and he will never be forgotten,” Griffin said. “During his final act as a police officer, he was being proactive within the community that he loved. He was working to change the trajectory of the violence in Philadelphia. Now, it is up to all of us to continue that work.” 

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) will hold a plaque dedication in honor of Fitzgerald at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18 in the Feinstone Lounge in Sullivan Hall. Those planning to attend must email RSVP@Temple.Edu.  Following the service, DPS will unveil a memorial wall to Fitzgerald’s family during a private ceremony. 

“The memorial wall that honors Sgt. Fitzgerald is important because it recognizes his bravery and will make sure his sacrifice is always remembered,” Griffin said. 

Temple Police Officer Philip Berry said he’ll always remember the last conversation he had with Fitzgerald, who was known to officers as ‘Fitz.’

“We talked about running, because Fitz was a runner,” Berry said. “So he was telling me to just do my three miles. ‘I don’t care if you walk, just do your three miles.’ He said that’s the start. So I said, ‘Ok, I’ll do the three miles.’”

Berry said Fitzgerald encouraged him and other officers to run because he truly cared about people and their health. 

Following Fitzgerald’s death, Temple Police Officer Leroy Wimberly led the charge to have part of Montgomery Avenue, where the incident happened, renamed to Christopher Fitzgerald Way.

“Getting that street renamed in honor of Sgt. Christopher Fitzgerald, it means a lot,” said Wimberly. “We ride past it all the time and a lot of the officers will ride past the sign, pull over, get out and remember what he meant to us, what he gave us.”

The deadly shooting happened while Temple Police Officer Daniel Kornak was training in the police academy to become a law enforcement officer. 

“Before I became a cop, I had to go to the funeral,” Kornak said. “It was definitely a wake-up call.”

Fitzgerald was hired at Temple in 2021, the same time as Officer Jeffrey McKee.

“He always wanted to go out there and get a gun off the street,” McKee said. 

McKee said every time he puts on his police uniform, he now wears Fitzgerald’s sergeant badge and carries in his pocket a challenge coin that has a picture of Fitzgerald’s face on it, which was given by the police department. 

“I know he’s watching, I know he’s with me,” McKee said. “He was an important person in my life. It’s important that I carry him with me and he keeps me safe.”

Sgt. Daniel Paris said Fitzgerald would often ask him about becoming a supervisor.

“Part of the reason he would ask about becoming a supervisor is because he wanted to stay here a long time. Chris loved working here at Temple,” Paris said.  

Fitzgerald had served the Temple community for 16 months and previously served with the Philadelphia County Sheriff’s Office for two and a half years. He also served with the Sugar Land Police Department in Texas and as a Lehigh County corrections officer. He is survived by his wife and children, as well as his parents, sister and brother. His mother and father retired from the Philadelphia Police Department. 

Fitzgerald is remembered as a dedicated public servant and loving family man.