Cleveland police: Suspect posted killing video on Facebook

Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misspelled the victim’s last name. The victim is Robert Godwin Sr.

 

Police in Cleveland were searching for a homicide suspect who they said broadcast a videotaped killing on Facebook and claimed to have committed “multiple other homicides” that authorities had yet to verify.

Around midnight, police tweeted that an aggravated murder warrant had been issued for the suspect, Steve Stephens, and warned residents of Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be on alert.

Stephens, a 6-foot 1-inch African-American man, said on Facebook that he had committed an “Easter day slaughter.” Police late Sunday said they couldn’t identify other homicide victims but “continue to search multiple areas.”

Stephens was reported to be driving a light-colored Ford Fusion. Police called him armed and dangerous. He was last seen wearing a dark blue and gray or black striped polo shirt.

Police identified the victim as Robert Godwin Sr., 74.

In the video, which appears shaky, Stephens gets out of his car and appears to randomly target Godwin, who was walking on a sidewalk carrying a shopping bag. Stephens says the name of a woman, whom Godwin does not seem to recognize.

“She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you,” Stephens told Godwin before pointing a gun at him. Godwin can be seen shielding his face with the shopping bag.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson publicly urged Stephens to turn himself in to police and not to “do any more harm to anybody.”

cleveland-homicide

“Any problems he is having, we can have a conversation,” Jackson said.

Authorities on Sunday said a series of posts on Stephens’ Facebook page complained that he had “lost everything” to gambling, NBC News reported. Stephens allegedly wrote: “I killed 12 people today,” and said he wouldn’t stop until he could speak to his mother and a second woman.

Later, the user posted: “I killed 15 today because of [the second woman],” but police said no other victims had been found. The video of the killing remained on Facebook for nearly three hours before it was taken down and Stephens’ page deactivated, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Stephens, a case manager with Beech Brook, a children’s behavioral health agency, had recently been working with young adults, a Beech Brook official told BuzzFeed News.

A Facebook spokesperson called the shooting “a horrific crime,” adding, “We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”

Several recent shootings have played out live on the online platform, including the police killing last July of Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Also last July, three people were injured in a shooting captured on Facebook Live in Norfolk, Va. The men were sitting in a car listening to music when the shooting took place. The phone streaming the shooting fell to the floor of the car and continued recording for about two hours as police arrived and bystanders offered aid.

Credit: Usatoday.com

 

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