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Officer Fitzgerald’s Father Urges Temple Family: ‘Make His Life Mean Something’

The bustling Temple University campus came to a stop Tuesday afternoon to remember the life of Officer Christopher “Fitz” Fitzgerald during a vigil at the Bell Tower.

A sea of students from football players to theater majors gathered to pay their respects to the 31-year-old Temple Police officer who, according to those close to him, died doing what he loved: Protecting the Temple family. He was the first member of the Temple force killed in the line of duty.

Bucks County resident Miles Pfeffer, 18, allegedly shot Fitzgerald Saturday night as the officer tried to stop three people in a robbery just off the Temple campus. Pfeffer disregarded Fitzgerald’s commands, shooting Fitzgerald in the head and then firing several more shots into his face, according to an affidavit.

U.S. Marshals took Pfeffer into custody at his  Buckingham Township home on Sunday morning.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first vigil we have held on campus,” said Temple Senior Vice President and Provost Gregory Mandell, who noted in 16 years it was by far the biggest crowd he had seen.

Officer Christopher Fitzgerald

“What took place Saturday night was a testament to his selflessness and today was an apt tribute and testimony to his life,” Mandell said.

Strong wind threatened the opening of the ceremony, sending the tent adorning the podium ripping through the crowd. Moments later someone in the audience tried to disrupt the ceremony, prompting a quick scuffle with members of the Fitzgerald family. After the protestor was escorted out, the service began.

The afternoon’s first speaker, Quaiser Abdullah, a communications professor and a chaplain with the Philadelphia Police Department, delivered a eulogy.

“What happened to Fitz is a glaring reminder that life is temporary,” Abdullah said, as members of the Temple Police Department looked on from the front row.

University President Jason Wingard urged the Temple community to bring meaning to Fitzgerald’s values, to return “to a place where love abides.”

“One of our deepest fears became true but what it can teach us is compassion,” Wingard said. “You all gather here every day to make the world a better place, to elevate yourselves path of dissent is the path of transformation.”

The most emotional moment came when Marissa Fitzgerald, the officer’s widow, addressed the crowd. “My life will never be the same,” she said of her husband and father of four children. “He did what he had to do for you [Temple students] to not have to hear a gunshot.”

Taylor Warren, a freshman studying media studies production and whose mother is also a Temple police officer, thought the vigil was an important healing moment for the university.

“I came here to pay my respect to him and my family,” Warren said.

Fitzgerald’s father, Joel Fitzgerald, Sr. served as a Philadelphia police officer for 17 years. He spoke about the example his son set for the Temple community.

“He took guns off the street for you, so I ask you to pay it forward. What will save this country is you who came here today to celebrate our son’s life.”

And he urged the students, “Make his life mean something.”


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‘Enough Is Enough:’ GOP Legislators Target Philly DA Krasner For Impeachment

A group of state House Republicans announced Monday they are launching an effort to impeach Philadelphia’s progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner to “highlight his absolute dereliction of duty.”

“Lives have been lost,” said Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington), one of the three lawmakers to begin circulating the impeachment legislation. “Property has been destroyed. And families have been crushed. Enough is enough.”

Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) is also part of the effort, along with Tim O’Neal (R-Washington). “Krasner said six months ago, ‘We do not believe arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shooting,'” Ecker noted.

“Since that time there have been nearly 950 people injured or killed as a result of gun violence in Philadelphia,” Ecker continued, “a nearly 7 percent increase over last year. There have been 220 homicides in the city of Philadelphia, 194 fatal shootings, and 796 nonfatal shootings. There’s been an 8 percent increase in shooting incidents in Philadelphia. It’s widespread lawlessness in the city of Philadelphia.”

Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) backs the impeachment effort.

“The lawlessness in Philadelphia has been exasperated by the intentional lack of adequate prosecution by and under Krasner’s direction. That is coming to an end,” White said.

“Impeachment is a rarely used process, but the time has come,” she said. “No longer can we allow law-abiding citizens to live in fear or to be victimized by the criminals who have been emboldened by the district attorney?

“I want to thank my colleagues for standing with Pennsylvanians and announcing they will be introducing articles of impeachment for Larry Krasner. I have co-sponsored the articles and will support my colleagues in every way possible through the process,” White said.

The plan to impeach the progressive distinct attorney echoes the successful effort in California where voters in deep-blue San Francisco threw far-left prosecutor Chesa Boudin out of office two weeks ago. Removing Krasner has support from some legislative heavy hitters.

“Now is the time to have a serious discussion about impeaching Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner,” said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin). “Philadelphia’s unchecked crime problem is a statewide concern and the district attorney’s open refusal to enforce current Pennsylvania law in the city is a clear dereliction of his duty to keep Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians safe.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) called for Krasner’s impeachment when he was campaigning for governor earlier this year.

“Today’s announcement couldn’t come soon enough,” said a spokesman for Corman. “Philadelphians deserve a D.A. who puts dangerous criminals behind bars instead of letting them back out onto the streets to seek more victims.”

A simple majority vote will be required in the House to impeach Krasner. It would take a two-thirds vote for the Senate to convict him.

Dom Giordano, a Philadelphia resident and talk radio host, has long decried Krasner’s handling of crime in the city.

“We’ve been involved in this pounding and pounding away,”  said Giordano.

He says he believes Krasner will likely be his own worst enemy when he goes before the House to testify with “his typical arrogance and smugness.

“It’s his arrogance. He’s just one of a kind. These other guys can’t hold a candle to him, the other progressive prosecutors. He’s dug in,” Giordano said.

Giordano noted that after the South Street shooting, Mayor Jim Kenney commented about the violence and the lack of prosecution of crime.

Kenney said, “We cannot accept continued violence as a way of life in our country. Until we address the availability and ease of access to firearms, we will always be fighting an uphill battle.”

That comment from Kenney might also be a turning point, said Giordano.

Giordano said the impeachment will get bipartisan support since Democrats are up for re-election, some facing competitive races.

Krasner did not respond to a request for comment.

However, Rep. Ben Sanchez (D-Abington) called the impeachment effort a “political stunt by three legislators who live nowhere near Philadelphia and who are looking to deflect from the pressure millions of Americans are putting on them right now to enact commonsense gun safety reform.

“I would implore those legislators to work on gun safety legislation to address this problem which has existed long before D.A. Larry Krasner was twice elected. We could start by passing House Bill 980 which would require lost and stolen firearms reporting and help reduce the flow of illegal guns to the City of Philadelphia and its suburbs.”


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FLOWERS: Applauding Sen. Corman for Move to Oust DA Krasner

Short of doing something illegal, which is not exactly unheard of in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have done everything within my limited power to get rid of Larry Krasner.

Krasner, Philadelphia’s progressive District Attorney, is presiding over the largest spike in violent crime, including homicides, in recent history: Our own Philly Killing Fields.

These are the things that I did:

  1. Wrote numerous articles about the damage that he is doing to the city, particularly his callous mistreatment of victims and their families;
  2. Battled mightily on social media with people who have misrepresented his actions and minimized the carnage, including people with blue checks next to their names like Philadelphia city council members and Philadelphia mayors;
  3. Changed my registration from Republican to Democrat so I could vote against him in the May primary;
  4. Voted against him in the May primary, even though Krasner’s coterie of supporters tried to keep me from getting to the polls (as I wrote in a previous column);
  5. Supported Charles Peruto in the general election, both by interviewing him online and voting for him in person;
  6. Hosted radio programs where informed guests explained just how dangerous he has been, and still is, to the orderly administration of justice.

I’ve also channeled my Italian grandmother and relatives from her generation and invoked the malocchio, a/k/a, “Evil Eye” in the hope that he comes down with a debilitating case of dengue fever. (Don’t worry, it’s not fatal.)

Nothing has worked, because he is still there, and his supporters are still spreading their lies about how there is no “crisis of violence” in the city of Philadelphia.

So I’ve come to realize that this is out of my hands, and we need to look to others with more power, authority, and connections to neutralize this progressive threat. One of those people has made his move, and I applaud him with every sinew and bone in my body.

That person is state Sen. Jake Corman, who is running for the gubernatorial seat up for grabs because the current occupant, Tom Wolf, is limited (hallelujah!) from seeking a third term. But first things first.

This week, Corman sent a letter to state House Leader Bryan Cutler, urging him to initiate impeachment proceedings against Krasner. Corman noted, “The recent spike in violent crime is a direct result of DA Krasner’s failed policies and his refusal to perform the duties of his office to hold criminals accountable for the crimes that they commit. His decision to allow more and more criminals to walk free through plea deals and dismissed charges has created an environment in which Philadelphians are no longer safe in their own homes and communities.”

As someone who is currently living and working in Philadelphia, I can attest to the truth of that last sentence. I no longer feel safe walking the streets, taking public transportation, or even going into a store. I no longer feel as if I can travel in a car in the city without some delinquent brandishing a gun and trying to carjack the vehicle.

How can you blame me, a person without a security detail, for feeling that apprehension when just weeks ago my congressional representative Mary Gay Scanlon was herself the victim of a carjacking in broad daylight? She has the full force of the federal government behind her, while I have a months-old container of pepper spray and a bad Italian-Irish attitude.

While I can make offhanded jokes about it, there is nothing funny about the crime statistics in my beloved hometown, statistics that are directly attributable to the gross mismanagement of Larry Krasner. This is a man who is not even capable of taking responsibility for what is happening on his watch but instead tries to shift the blame on the dreaded bogeyman of all radical leftists: Republicans. His refusal to even acknowledge the rising tide of crime in the city was so egregious that former Mayor Michael Nutter, no conservative, wrote a scathing op-ed that read like an Emile Zola-esque “J’accuse” against a man and an administration that have no respect for human life.

There is no justification for Krasner’s malfeasance, and this ridiculous idea that he won in a landslide victory in November ignores the cogent fact that less than 30 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.  In some wards, they couldn’t even crack 10 percent. So Krasner won through apathy, not enthusiasm.

That’s why Corman’s letter is important. Philadelphia is only one city in the commonwealth, but what happens in Philly doesn’t just stay in Philly. It bleeds over into other parts of the state, with “bleeds” being the operative word.

I was myself a victim of crime on public transportation heading out of the city proper, and that was only a day before another person was raped and abused, while other passengers did nothing to intervene, on a train headed toward the near suburbs.

The House is the only body that could move to impeach Krasner, and they have an obligation to do so. If the voters won’t protect their neighbors from a man who is clearly disinterested in stopping the violence in our streets, either through ideological malice or voting day apathy, it’s up to the legislature to do it.

I applaud Sen. Corman for his initiative and hope the House picks up the baton and does what no one else can do: Get rid of Krasner, once and for all.

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Death of Temple Student from Delco Shines Light on Philly’s Record Homicide Rate

By all accounts, Samuel Collington did everything right. A brilliant student, Eagle Scout, and an aspiring lawyer. But he was gunned down near the Temple University campus as he came back from his Delaware County home the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

About 500 people attended a memorial for Collington Thursday at Interboro High School in Prospect Park, where one teacher after another spoke about how much Collington meant to them, what a joy it was to have him in their classrooms, his academic prowess, and his sense of humor.

Samuel Collington

Molly Collington, his mother, thanked those who came to the memorial to “honor our golden boy.”

“Please, just do a good deed in Sam’s name. He would really, really, really, really be honored,” she said. “And to know that all of you are here tonight to honor him. Sam was truly one of a kind.”

“This isn’t just a loss for the Collingtons. This is a loss for the world because Sam promised me he would make the world a better place,” she said. “He did when he was a baby. He said, ‘I’ll do everything I can to make this world better for you, Mom.’ And he meant it and he tried. He lived more in his 21 years and did more than some people ever do in their whole lives. And his obituary just wasn’t even long enough for all of his accomplishments.”

“I’m Bailey and I’m Sam’s sister, and for a while, for the majority of my life, that’s what I was for a lot of people, to teachers who were enthralled with his excellent work ethic and quick wit,” said Bailey Collington.

“I remember on the first days in my junior and senior year and (my Mom asked if) my teachers asked me about Sam and I said, ‘Yes, obviously.’ We both know they did. Maybe there was a period of my life when I resented it. But everyone who knew him knew he had a magnetic personality. The shadow he cast was big,” Bailey added.

After the speeches, hugs, and tears, participants carrying lighted candles began a procession walking a few blocks to the Norward Library where Samuel Collington had installed a flagpole for his Eagle Scout project.

The group of some 500 mourners mirrored the 513 people killed in Philadelphia as of December 3–a number not seen since 1990.

A 17-year-old suspect turned himself in to face murder charges in Collington’s death, which police said happened during a robbery. The suspect, Latif Williams, had a prior record and had been freed after the district attorney’s office dismissed previous charges against him before a preliminary hearing when a witness did not come to court, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Retired Upper Darby police chief and former Philadelphia police officer Michael Chitwood laid the blame squarely on the current District Attorney Larry Krasner, whose progressive policies have resulted in the release of criminals who would have been locked up under previous, tough-on-crime, DAs.

Chitwood said crime in Philadelphia “is totally out of control.” He called Collington’s death “a tragic event.”

“The doer should have been held in jail,” said Chitwood. “He should never have been on the street.”

While Chitwood does not oppose release for those who have committed minor crimes and believes in rehabilitation, people who are a danger to others should not be “walking among us,” he said.

“He had a lengthy criminal record and should be on the street,” he emphasized. The wave of shootings sweeping the country could hit any place, including the suburbs where people think they’re safe. “It could happen to any community, any place.”

While some say too many Pennsylvanians are incarcerated — the incarceration rate is 659 per 100,000 —  Chitwood says he believes the opposite is true and more jails are needed.

“If you need to build more jails for bad, heinous felons, build more jails,” he said. “These people who commit serious crimes should not be out on the streets.”

While some officials have cited the pandemic as a cause of the rising crime wave, Chitwood disagreed.

“Unless the DA locks up people who have committed horrible crimes, rapes, robberies, they will continue,” Chitwood said.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

An obituary listed some of Collington’s accomplishments, including being president of his high school class his junior and senior years, performing in the band and theater, being a member of the National Honor Society, and voted most likely to succeed. He also volunteered for various issues and organized a march after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Temple University officials said in a press release, “We mourn the loss of a bright and thriving political science student, and share in the wrenching grief of his family and friends. Samuel was set to graduate this spring from the College of Liberal Arts, and he already was succeeding in his field, interning as a Democracy Fellow with the city. This is a true tragedy in every sense of the word.”

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Who Is to Blame for Rise in Philly Crime?

Police officials and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to the city’s increasing crime rate. Neither side can agree on the cause behind the rising homicides and shootings. So, who’s right?

According to the DA’s office, 29 percent of homicides resulted in an arrest, and only 15 percent of nonfatal shootings resulted in arrests. Some police officials believe the district attorney isn’t prioritizing those prosecutions. However, a representative from that office told The Philadelphia Inquirer violent crimes “have always been a top priority.”

Former Upper Darby police chief Michael Chitwood told Delaware Valley Journal both sides are incorrect.

“There’s no one side that’s responsible or irresponsible,” Chitwood explained. “There are two sides, and the people who suffer from lousy police work and lousy prosecutors is the community.”

Chitwood spent 55 years on the police force before retiring. He served as police chief in Portland, Maine for 17 years, Delaware County for 14 years, Middletown Township for four and half years, and as a Philadelphia homicide detective for 20 years.

Chitwood says he believes the biggest problem with the increase in violence is the police department’s inability to interact with the community.

“I think two things happen. The first thing is the police department. We’re our own worst enemy when it comes to dealing with the public,” Chitwood said. “We don’t know how to treat people the way people expect to be treated. And that’s as follows, and I always say this whenever I hire somebody. Always treat people the way you want yourself and your family to be treated. If you do that, 95 percent of the time you’re going to be alright. There’s going to be 5 percent of the time that you’re not going to be alright and that’s where you learn how to defend and take the aggressive action that’s needed.”

In addition, Chitwood believes Philadelphia’s district attorney isn’t doing enough to keep the violent offenders off the streets.

“The second thing is, you have this elected DA who does not prosecute violent offenders,” Chitwood said. “Those individuals that commit these heinous types of crimes like rape, aggravated assault, murder, they have to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Thomas Hogan, former Chester County District Attorney, and a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, also sees this as a problem. In a podcast for The Manhattan Institute, Hogan decried progressive prosecutors, including Krasner, who have been elected with outside money in cities around the country.

“The police can do all this stuff, but unless the prosecutors are there to work with the police, to lock up the 5 percent (who commit most of the violent crimes), to lock down these 5 percent of locations (where crime happens), and work with them on taking care of these timeframes (weekend nights in the summer months), the police can work as hard as they want,” said Hogan. “It won’t move violent crime at all if you don’t have a prosecutor working with you.”

He predicted that violent crime will continue to increase in the next 15 to 20 years unless people get fed up and vote out the prosecutors who philosophically oppose incarceration.

“The only question is whether there will be a political will to fix this,” said Hogan.

“You can’t commit a crime if you’re in jail,” said Chitwood. “And you shouldn’t be in jail unless you commit a crime. The non-violent types of crime that are committed, I can see giving somebody a pass. I can see trying to rehabilitate without any problem. But those violent offenders that commit violent crime over and over again, they do not belong amongst us. I think that there’s a way to start that.”

The Inquirer analyzed that out of the 8,500 shootings between November 2015 and August 2020, only 21 percent of them led to an arrest, and only 9 percent led to a conviction. That statistic includes all fatal and nonfatal shootings during this time.

Chitwood’s suggestion to fix the crime and violence in Philadelphia? Put police officials through specialized training that teaches them how to treat people and gain the trust of the community they serve. Chitwood knows that isn’t going to happen overnight.

“It takes a long, long time to build that bridge that interacts with the community,” Chitwood said. “I think that’s the first thing the police have to do. The second thing that the prosecutors have to do is start putting these individuals in jail. You know, no bail, no ‘get out of jail free’ card. Those types of things just don’t work. As long as you see the swinging door of justice in any city, you’re going to see this increase in crime and what’s happening to society as we speak now.”