Facebook shooting suspect found by cops, commits suicide.
Man gave state police brief chase before taking his own life
A McDonald’s worker in Erie, Pennsylvania, spotted the suspect in a fatal shooting that aired on Facebook and alerted state police, who briefly chased the man before he shot and killed himself Tuesday morning — ending a two-day, nationwide manhunt.
Steve Stephens, 37, was wanted for the slaying of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland. Stephens recorded himself shooting Mr. Godwin in the face and uploaded the video to his Facebook page.
Ohio State Police initiated a manhunt Sunday and appealed to the public to help in find Stephens. As the national search entered its third day Tuesday, police had received almost 400 tips from the public.
One of those tips was from a fast-food restaurant employee in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Police earlier had identified the northwest county as a possible location of Stephens, based on a ping on his cellphone at a cellphone tower.
Driving a white Ford Fusion, Stephens approached the McDonald’s drive-through and ordered chicken nuggets and french fries. When Stephens continued to the second window, the employee stepped away to call 911, her manager, Tom Ducharme told reporters Tuesday.
Mr. Ducharme approached the second window and told Stephens it would be a minute for the fries, in order to buy some time for the police to arrive. Stephens said he couldn’t wait, and as he was pulling out of the parking lot, the police arrived, Mr. Ducharme said.
Police said they gave short chase to Stephens that didn’t exceed 50 mph. They used a precision immobilization technique, or PIT maneuver, to spin Stephens’ car to get him to stop. He then pulled out a gun and shot himself, police said.
Speaking to reporters shortly after incident, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said they had wanted to take Stephens in alive.
“We would have liked to have taken in Steven peacefully and find out why this happened … why he did what he did and why this drove him to this,” Chief Williams told reporters.
In other videos posted to Facebook, Stephens had boasted of having committed as many as a dozen other murders, but investigators could not confirm that.
Cleveland Police initially sent investigators to the area of Erie after receiving a ping from a cellphone call with Stephens was tracked to that location. Officers were going back Tuesday with ground and air assets when the chase occurred, Chief Williams said.
Police said it’s possible that Stephens chose to travel to Erie because of the opportunity to hide in remote areas, as opposed to working with anyone else to aid his escape.
They don’t believe he had any accomplices, but they said they are investigating whether someone was harboring him or if he had taken refuge in his car or outside.
Speaking to the graphic nature of the crime, Chief Williams said it shows the power of social media and the harm it can do.
“We’ve talked before about people not living their lives on social media, and being truthful, and not harming people on social media and this is a prime example,” he said. “This is something that should not have been shared around the world, period. Our kids ... they need to take this as a lesson, we can’t do this in this country.”
Chief Williams said he did not have any personal conversations with social media outlets. He added that it’s on the radar of political leaders to have conversations, not just with Facebook but with all social media, about what content should be allowed to be posted.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking Tuesday at a conference in San Jose, California, said: “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. We have a lot of work to do, and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
Pennsylvania State Police investigate the scene where Steve Stephens, the suspect in the random killing of a Cleveland retiree that was posted on Facebook, was found shot dead Tuesday, in Erie. Pennsylvania. Acting on a tip, state police spotted Stephens as he was driving away from a McDonald’s.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said Steve Stephens, who is accused of randomly killing a Cleveland retiree and posting video of the crime on Facebook, shot himself to death in his car.