Philadelphia street where Temple officer was killed to be renamed in his honor

The petition proposed to rename the street "Christopher Fitzgerald Way."

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Philadelphia street where Temple officer was killed to be renamed in his honor
Philadelphia street where Temple officer was killed to be renamed in his honor

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The street where a Temple University Police Department sergeant was shot and killed will soon bear his name.

Philadelphia City Council members gave the final approval on Thursday to change the name of the 1700 block on West Montgomery Avenue in honor of Sergeant Christopher Fitzgerald.

"I have walked this neighborhood quite a bit," said Officer Leroy Wimberly with Temple police as he walked the area.

He does so now without his fellow officer and friend Sergeant Fitzgerald, who died in the line of duty on February 18.

READ: Family, friends mourn loss of Temple officer killed in the line of duty

"It was disbelief. We could not believe it," recalled Wimberly when he got the call that Fitzgerald had been shot. "Sgt. Fitzgerald was one of the nicest young men you would want to meet."

Fitzgerald had been with Temple police for less than two years after previously serving elsewhere. The 31-year-old husband and father quickly formed a strong bond with his fellow Temple officers.

"We consider ourselves a family. So when the incident happened, it kind of hurt everyone," said Wimberly.

It's why Wimberly was determined to rename the block where his colleague died.

"I was talking to one of my captains, and we just came up with, like, 'Yo, that would be great if we could get a street renamed after him,'" said Wimberly.

Wimberly sought advice from Senator Sharif Street, whose office helped him draft a petition that would need signatures.

His petition proposed to rename the street "Christopher Fitzgerald Way."

"For a young man with so much ahead of him, it was like something has to be done in remembrance and honor of this young man," Wimberly said.

The resolution was introduced last Thursday. It moved quickly through Philadelphia City Council with the final vote of approval coming around noon on Thursday.

Wimberly and his colleagues watched the live broadcast of the vote. Huddled around a cell phone, when the council gave final approval, the officers broke out in celebration, high fives and tears.

It's a moment that Wimberly didn't just wait for but worked for by taking weeks to gather hundreds of signatures.

"(I) pounded these pavements. The Temple pavements, the community where he was murdered at. We wound up getting over 700 signatures," said Wimberly. "When people saw us out there getting the petitions signed, they were coming out of their house in support of this."

It was all for the officer who loved helping his community.

"He was always willing to help out," said Wimberly.

Now the Temple University Police Department is planning more events in Fitzgerald's name. They're planning a run and a basketball game, both uniting police officers with children in the community that Fitzgerald loved to serve.

"He will never be forgotten," Wimberly said. "Never."