Remembering Sergeant Christopher David Fitzgerald
Fallen Temple University police sergeant is remembered for his bravery and devotion to family and community.
“Everybody loved Chris” is how family, friends and the Temple University community remember Police Sergeant Christopher David Fitzgerald, who lost his life Saturday, Feb. 18, when he was shot and killed in the line of duty. And Sgt. Fitzgerald loved Temple University, his grieving wife and friends said this week.
“Chris and my son Steve were super close. They went to high school together, and Steve was the best man in Chris’s wedding,” said Detective Agoi V. Ombima of the Temple University Police Department. “Chris was just a great guy. He was a go-getter, he was ambitious and he just worked hard. He was a friend to everybody. Before Temple, Chris was a sheriff, and he called me and said, ‘I want to be a Temple cop.’ He really loved the job.”
Police Sgt. Fitzgerald, 31, gave his life in the line of duty in North Philadelphia. The Philadelphia native is remembered as a fearless public servant and loving family man. On Feb. 24, Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin posthumously changed Sgt. Fitzgerald's ranking from officer to sergeant.
Fitzgerald joined the Temple University Police Department in October 2021, where he immediately made a positive impact among its members, on campus and throughout the surrounding community. In addition to his wife, Marissa, Fitzgerald is survived by four children and a tight-knit extended family. His parents, Joel Fitzgerald Sr. and Pauline Fitzgerald, are career law enforcement professionals.
“Sgt. Fitzgerald stood out as someone with a very bright future ahead of him,” Temple President Jason Wingard said. “When I would speak with Chris, he would mention how much he enjoyed working at Temple. Eager to learn, he had aspirations of a leadership role here, and asked me to mentor him. When I spent time with his family members this week, they spoke of the great pride Chris took in his job as a member of Temple University's police unit. That pride was obvious in his positive demeanor and work ethic. His tragic death is an incalculable loss for so many. Gingi and I are holding the Fitzgerald family in prayer. The entire Temple family grieves along with them.”
Fitzgerald was known as a dedicated colleague and selfless protector who cared deeply about the community he served. As a member of Swagga House Run Club and Black Men Run Philadelphia, he participated in advocacy-oriented group runs through Philadelphia neighborhoods to raise awareness about gun violence.
“Sgt. Fitzgerald has served our community proudly,” said Jennifer Griffin, Temple vice president for public safety. “His father has shared that he was proud to be a police officer, but that he exceptionally loved being a Temple University police officer. Through his final act as a police officer being proactive in the community that he loved, he was working to change the trajectory of the increasing violence in Philadelphia, and now it is up to all of us to continue that work.”
In addition to serving at Temple and the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, Fitzgerald worked at the Philadelphia Housing Authority and as a corrections officer. He also served at the Philadelphia Board of Election offices during the 2020 election. “I’ll always be grateful for his service protecting our staff and our voters,” tweeted Al Schmidt, acting secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Sgt. Fitzgerald’s father served as police chief in four cities across the U.S., including Allentown. He is a 17-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department and served as chief deputy in the Philadelphia’s Sheriff’s Office in 2020. He currently serves as the chief of police and emergency management of the Regional Transportation District in Denver, Colorado. His mother, also a Philadelphia Police Department veteran, recently served as a homicide detective in Tarrant County, Texas.
The Temple community will come together to mourn and honor the life of Sgt. Christopher David Fitzgerald during a vigil at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Bell Tower. Two viewings are planned for Sgt. Fitzgerald, one on Thursday, Feb. 23, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at John F. Givnish Funeral Home, 10975 Academy Road, and the second on Friday, Feb. 24, 8–11:30 a.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, 1723 Race St., immediately followed by burial at Forest Hills Cemetery, 101 Byberry Road, Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania. Please visit Sgt. Fitzgerald's memorial service page for more information.
This is a very difficult time for everyone in the Temple community. University counseling and support services are available for students, faculty and staff in need of assistance.
- Wendy Ramunno