The man who was subject to a national manhunt for randomly shooting and killing someone on a Cleveland street and uploading footage of the homicide to Facebook has killed himself in Erie, Pennsylvania, state police said.
Steve Stephens posted a video to Facebook on Sunday showing him saying, "I found somebody I'm about to kill. I'm about to kill this guy — this older dude." He exited his car, walked up to Robert Godwin, asked him to repeat the name of Stephens' ex-girlfriend, and shot him.
Godwin pleaded before he was shot, saying, "I don't know anybody by that name." One of the next frames shows Godwin lying on the ground with a long streak of blood beside his body.
The FBI and US Marshals began a nationwide search for Stephens — more than 400 tips came in to law enforcement saying Stephens was spotted from Pennsylvania to Texas.
Shortly after the news broke that Stephens was dead, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams spoke at press conference. He said that Pennsylvania State Police responded Tuesday morning after receiving a tip that the vehicle authorities identified as Stephens’ car was spotted in a McDonald’s parking lot in Erie.
When police arrived at the scene, Stephens fled and a brief chase ensued.
Stephens pulled over and, as officers approached the vehicle, he took his own life. Officials did not provide any details on how Stephens kill himself.
“We would have preferred that it didn’t end this way,” Williams said.
Cleveland FBI Special Agent Steve Anthony echoed Williams’ sentiment that the goal was to bring Stephens in alive. “Unfortunately, that was not the case,” Anthony said.
Williams confirmed that federal agents working with Cleveland PD had been in Erie and its surrounding parts since reports surfaced that Stephens' cell phone was pinged in the area after the shooting.
Asked about the role that social media played in Godwin’s death, Williams spoke about the viral video of the victim’s shooting, proclaiming, “This should not have been shared around the world, period.”
Facebook issued a timeline Monday detailing how the events surrounding the death of Godwin unfolded. In the blog post, Facebook executive Justin Osofsky said that the video of Godwin’s death was online for two hours before it was reported by users.
“We know we need to do better,” Osofsky said.