Suspect in Facebook video killing shoots himself to death after police chase

CLEVELAND (AP) — The man who randomly killed a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook shot himself to death Tuesday after police chased him down in his car in Pennsylvania, ending a multistate manhunt less than 48 hours after it began.

Acting a tip, Pennsylvania State Police spotted Steve Stephens, 37, in Erie County, in the state’s northwest corner, authorities said. After a brief pursuit, he pulled over, and as officers approached the car, he took his own life, authorities said.

“We would have preferred it not ended this way,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said.

The break in the case came when police received a tip that Stephens’ car was in a McDonald’s parking lot, Willlams said. Law enforcement officials had said on Monday that his cellphone was last tracked Sunday afternoon near Erie, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Cleveland.

Stephens, a job counselor who worked with teenagers and young people, was wanted on an aggravated murder charge in the shooting of Robert Godwin Sr., a 74-year-old man who was picking up aluminum cans on Sunday when he was gunned down.

Stephens posted a video of himself killing Godwin. “I snapped, I just snapped,” he said.

Police would not speculate on what was behind the killing, but in the video and other footage he posted, he talked about losing everything he had to gambling and having trouble with his girlfriend.

The video of the killing was up for three hours before it was taken down, raising questions about Facebook’s handling of objectionable material posted by its users. Facebook said it removed the video 23 minutes after learning of it.

In the video of the shooting, Stephens told Godwin the name of his girlfriend and said, “She’s the reason that this is about to happen to you.” Godwin did not seem to recognize the name.

The woman Stephens spoke of, Joy Lane, said in a text message to CBS that “we had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.”

Investigators said that Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite his claim on Facebook that he killed over a dozen people.

Detectives spoke with the suspect on Sunday by cellphone and tried to persuade him to surrender, police said.

Within a day, authorities expanded the search nationwide and offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s