Final goodbye for Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald

To ease the burden on the family, Temple University said it will pay for Ofc. Fitzgerald's funeral.

A memorial to Officer Christopher Fitzgerald.

A memorial to Officer Christopher Fitzgerald. (Kenny Cooper/WHYY)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

Temple University police officer Christopher Fitzgerald was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant during a funeral service that was attended by hundreds of family, friends, local dignitaries and fellow police officers.

Sgt. Fitzgerald was remembered for the good he did in the community during Friday’s service at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City Philadelphia.

We heard about Sgt. Fitzgerald’s smile, laugh, warm-natured and giving heart, and love for his family. It’s a family broken by this senseless act of violence but supported by hundreds of men and women in uniform.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“Chris’ children deserve to have their daddy with them. It’s not fair. It is not how it’s supposed to be,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.

The governor praised Sgt. Fitzgerald for not only his service as a police officer but for the many other ways he helped his community.

“He understood the needs of our city. That’s why he played with the kids on the block, why he started a run club to encourage young people to turn away from violence,” Shapiro said. “He had so much more to do, Chris did. His life was taken far too early. He had so much more to give, to do, to share with us.”

“But, Chris was on this earth long enough to show us the way,” Shapiro continued.

Sgt. Fitzgerald’s brother, Joel, said his impact on so many people will be remembered.

“Chris and his impact will obviously be remembered. I can barely even see all the way to the back because there’s so many people here,” Joel said. “I love that for him.”

“I use Chris as an inspiration,” Joel continued, “and I will throughout the rest of my days.”

The funeral service filled the basilica and spilled out onto the streets.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“It’s just overwhelming. He was a sweet, sweet man and a sweet child,” said his grandmother, Rosele Hicks. “I’m speechless. I really am.”

The 31-year-old father of five served with the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department before transferring to Temple.

“Anytime I put out something, we need volunteers to give out food, he’d be the first one. We love him, we do. He will always be missed,” said Sheriff Rochelle Bilal.

Temple’s Vice President of Public Safety Jennifer Griffin said the promotion to sergeant was a way to honor Fitzgerald’s dedicated service to the university.

“I’m confident Sgt. Fitzgerald will continue to inspire his colleagues, and those who didn’t personally know him, but will hear the stories,” Griffin said.

Sgt. Fitzgerald was laid to rest at Forest Hills Cemetery.

The day began with a procession carrying the fallen officer began just after 6 a.m. at the John F. Givnish Funeral Home on Academy Road in Northeast Philadelphia, making its way to the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Race Street in Center City.

The motorcade passed Sgt. Fitzgerald’s home in Mayfair before heading to Temple University and the Temple police station in North Philadelphia.

Once the motorcade reached the Cathedral Basilica, Temple police carried the flag-draped casket inside.

The City of Philadelphia and the surrounding area are in mourning. The Bell Tower on Temple’s campus is lit up in blue and a billboard in his memory is on display in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

To ease the burden on the family, Temple University said it will pay for Sgt. Fitzgerald’s funeral and provide free tuition for his children, should they choose to attend Temple.

Fitzgerald was fatally shot after a short pursuit and struggle on Saturday evening North 18th Street near Temple University’s campus.

He is the first Temple police officer to be killed in the line of duty.

The first of two public viewings was held Thursday evening at the Givnish Funeral Home. His family was escorted by a full motorcade and greeted with a salute by the Temple Police Department.

The line for those wanting to pay their respects stretched around the corner. At times, the wait was hours long.

“It’s a hard time right now and I’m going to be praying for them, for the whole family,” said Larnella Woods of Northeast Philadelphia.

The FOP also held a fundraiser Thursday to help his family.

“It’s unfortunate, but once you lose a loved one in the police department, you gain thousands and thousands of additional family members. We’re going to be here no matter what,” said Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby.

The event was expected to draw about 1,000 people.

A suspect in the shooting, 18-year-old Miles Pfeffer, was arrested around 6 a.m. Sunday at his family home in Buckingham Twp., Bucks County.

Pfeffer is charged with murder, murder of a law enforcement officer, possession of an instrument of crime and disarming a law enforcement officer.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal