Facebook Murder Suspect Kills Himself
A three-day manhunt in a fatal shooting that garnered national attention after a video of it was posted on Facebook ended yesterday with a brief car chase and the suspect shooting and killing himself, the authorities said. Steve W. Stephens was the subject of a nationwide manhunt after Sunday’s horrific slaying in Cleveland, and reignited a debate about violence in the Internet age.
“We are grateful that this has ended,” said Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin Williams. He said authorities had received nearly 400 tips to aid in the search for Stephens. “That just shows the vigilance of people in this country.” Mr. Stephens was spotted by a concerned citizen at a McDonald’s restaurant near Erie, Pa., a Pennsylvania state police official said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Henry Sayers, the restaurant’s manager, said in an interview that Mr. Stephens bought a 20-piece order of Chicken Nuggets and larger order of French fries at the drive-through. Mr. Stephens was given his order of Nuggets, but workers tried to make him wait by holding on to his fries while calling the police after one of the workers recognized him as the subject of the manhunt. “But he just took his nuggets and said, ‘I have to go,’ and he drove off,” Mr. Sayers said, adding that Mr. Stephens did not speed away but left the restaurant at a normal clip.
“We have our closure,” Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said at a news conference in Ohio. But Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams probably spoke for many when he said moments later: “We have so many questions.” Robert Godwin Sr. (the victim) was killed on Easter, as he walked alone down a residential road in East Cleveland, carrying a grocery bag.
He was reportedly collecting aluminum cans, though his family told CNN that was walking home from a holiday meal when Stephens – 6-foot-1 and 224 pound, according to police – approached with a cellphone camera. “I found somebody I’m about to kill,” Stephens said in the live video. “He’s an old dude.” There was little in Stephens’s history, as told by those who knew him, to suggest the violence he was about to document. He had no criminal history and had worked for many years at a children’ behavioral center in Ohio. “We would like to have brought in Steven peacefully and really talk to him and find out why this happened,” said Williams, the Cleveland police chief.
Besides this horrific event, what took Facebook so long to get this video down? This tragedy was made worse by the continuous playing of the video compounding the brutality of the event.