Temple University offers counseling, support after campus police officer’s death

‘We are grieving the senseless loss of a heroic first responder,’ Temple President Jason Wingard said

By: - February 21, 2023 10:00 am

A memorial for slain Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald stands Monday at 17th Street Montgomery Avenue in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — Temple University is offering counseling and support resources for students and staff following the recent death of university police officer Christopher Fitzgerald.

Temple officials said resources will be available throughout the week and beyond.

Temple students can reach out to Tuttleman Counseling Services at 1700 N. Broad St. or via phone at (215) 204-7276. The center has hours between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For faculty and staff members, Temple offers an employee assistance program that offers support and resources through LifeWorks, an organization that provides free confidential counseling, consultations, referrals, and online access to hundreds of articles, toolkits, podcasts and webinars.

Their services are available to employees on-line 24/7 or through the phone at 1(888) 267-8126. Employees and students can also contact Temple’s Psychological Services Center at 1509 Cecil B Moore Ave or via phone at (215) 204-7100.

“We are grieving the senseless loss of a heroic first responder,” Temple University President Jason Wingard said in a statement.

“This loss will reverberate throughout our community. It will impact all of us in the days and weeks to come. I urge students, faculty and staff in need of the university’s counseling and support services to reach out for help,” he added.

Eighteen-year-old Miles Pfeffer is accused of killing Fitzgerald near North 17th Street and West Montgomery Avenue in North Philadelphia on Saturday. Fitzgerald at the time was responding to a robbery at a nearby convenience store.

Fitzgerald, 31, had been on the university’s police force since October 2021. He was the first line-of-duty death in the history of the campus police department.

“Officer Fitzgerald gave his life to selflessly serve and defend this community,” Jennifer Griffin, the university’s vice president for public safety, said in a statement.

“The courage and bravery he displayed highlights the day-to-day sacrifice made by our Temple University Police Officers to keep our community safe. This loss leaves an enormous hole in all of our hearts,” Griffin said. “He was a father, a husband, a son, a colleague, and a friend….He will be deeply missed.”

Temple students, fellow police officers, members of the community and relatives have since been paying their respects to Fitzgerald at a memorial along the 1700 block of West Montgomery Avenue and Bouvier Street.

Flowers, candles, balloons, signs and photos now take over the sidewalk several feet away from where the officer was killed. On Tuesday, Temple University along with faith leaders and the officer’s family will hold a vigil at 4 p.m. at the Bell Tower on the university’s campus.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro have ordered all flags to be lowered to half-staff throughout the city and Commonwealth in Fitzgerald’s honor.

“To sacrifice himself for me and all the other Temple students,” Temple student John Breen said to NBC10 while visiting the memorial. “I encourage all Temple students to come out, just to say a prayer.”

Temple University Police Association has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Fitzgerald’s wife and children. The online fundraiser had raised $259,682 of the $300,000 goal as of Monday 4 p.m. Nearly 4,300 donations have been made.

“Officer Fitzgerald loved being a police officer, and he will always be remembered for his fearlessness in fighting crime and his compassion for his community,” said Temple University Police Association on the GoFundMe page. “All donations will provide support for Chris and his family and this is the only fundraiser at this time.”

Comments honoring the fallen officer have flooded the GoFundMe page, which lists his wife Marissa Fitzgerald as the beneficiary.

“My daughter goes to Temple and lives right around the corner from where this happened,” said donor Michelle Gargano. “I pray everyday for her safety and I thank God for these officers. My heart is broken for this fallen hero and the family that he leaves behind. May justice be served!”

In a social media post, Temple alumna and Philadelphia Police Department Lt. Quiana Richardson applauded Fitzgerald for his bravery.

“As a Temple University alum, a tragedy against those tasked to protect students saddens me,” Richardson said on Twitter. “As a law enforcement professional, it angers me that violence continues to plague our streets. Prayers to the officer and his family. I applaud your bravery and will #NeverForget.”

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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