Of­fi­cials ex­pand hunt for sus­pect in Face­book shoot­ing

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials spread search out to rust belt

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY MARK GILLISPIE

CLEVE­LAND | Au­thor­i­ties in sev­eral states were on the look­out Mon­day for a man po­lice say shot a Cleve­land re­tiree col­lect­ing alu­minum cans and then posted video of the ap­par­ently ran­dom killing on Face­book.

“He could be nearby. He could be far away or any­where in be­tween,” FBI agent Stephen An­thony said on Day 2 of the man­hunt for Steve Stephens, a 37-year-old job coun­selor for teens and young adults.

Po­lice said Mr. Stephens killed Robert God­win Sr., a 74-year-old for­mer foundry worker, on Sun­day.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors said that Mr. God­win was the only vic­tim so far linked to Mr. Stephens, de­spite the sus­pect’s claim in a sep­a­rate video on Face­book that he killed more than a dozen peo­ple.

Of­fi­cers searched dozens of places around the city and spoke with the sus­pect by cell­phone, po­lice said.

Po­lice Chief Calvin Wil­liams warned res­i­dents to be care­ful as the go about their day.

Au­thor­i­ties also warned peo­ple in Penn­syl­va­nia, New York, In­di­ana and Michi­gan to be alert for Mr. Stephens, who was wanted on a charge of ag­gra­vated mur­der.

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials said that the last place his cell­phone sig­nal was tracked was in Erie, Penn­syl­va­nia, about 100 miles east of Cleve­land, on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

And nine schools were locked down Mon­day in Philadel­phia, a more than six-hour drive from Cleve­land, as po­lice in­ves­ti­gated pos­si­ble sight­ings of Mr. Stephens.

Mr. God­win ap­par­ently was shot ran­domly while out pick­ing up cans in a plas­tic shop­ping bag, his daugh­ter said.

“Not be­cause he needed the money, it was just some­thing he did,” said Deb­bie God­win, 52. “That’s all he was do­ing. He wasn’t harm­ing any­one.”

She said her fa­ther, who had 10 chil­dren, was a gen­tle man with noth­ing mean about him.

“We called him the junk man,” she said. “He’d pick up things off the street and fix them. He picked up bikes and he fixed them.”

The mo­tive for the shoot­ing wasn’t en­tirely clear from the shaky video, in which Mr. Stephens told Mr. God­win a woman’s name and said, “She’s the rea­son that this is about to hap­pen to you.” Mr. God­win did not seem to rec­og­nize the woman’s name.

The sus­pect then pointed a gun at Mr. God­win, who shielded his face with the plas­tic bag.

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

She also said Mr. Stephens was “a nice guy” who was gen­er­ous to ev­ery­one and was “kind and lov­ing” to her and her chil­dren.

Face­book said the video was posted after the killing but wasn’t broad­cast on Face­book Live as po­lice ini­tially in­di­cated. The sus­pect did go live on the so­cial me­dia site at another point Sun­day.

The video of the killing was on Face­book for about three hours be­fore it was taken down. Mr. Stephens’ Face­book page also was even­tu­ally re­moved.

“This is a hor­rific crime and we do not al­low this kind of con­tent on Face­book,” the so­cial me­dia com­pany said. “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.”

In the sep­a­rate video, Mr. Stephens said: “I killed 13, so I’m work­ing on 14 as we speak.”

Po­lice said they have not ver­i­fied any other shoot­ings or deaths.

Mr. Stephens worked at Beech Brook, a be­hav­ioral health agency head­quar­tered in Pep­per Pike, near Cleve­land. He helped young peo­ple de­velop job skills and find em­ploy­ment, said Beech Brook spokes­woman Nancy Korte­meyer.

An ex­ten­sive back­ground check be­fore he was hired turned up noth­ing wor­ri­some, she said.

“We just hope Mr. Stephens is ap­pre­hended as quickly as pos­si­ble so that no one else is in­jured,” she said.

In one of the videos, Mr. Stephens could be seen hold­ing up his em­ployee iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and said: “I’m killing with my Beech Brook badge on, too.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Alexis Lee, a child­hood friend of Steve Stephens, speaks with a neigh­bor in Cleve­land, Ohio, on Mon­day. Au­thor­i­ties in Cleve­land have ex­panded their man­hunt na­tion­wide for Mr. Stephens, a man ac­cused of shoot­ing a re­tiree and post­ing a video on Face­book.

Au­thor­i­ties in sev­eral states are on the look­out for a man po­lice say shot a Cleve­land re­tiree col­lect­ing alu­minum cans and then posted video of the killing on Face­book.

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