Cleveland Police Search For Suspect Who Posted Homicide Video On Facebook

A manhunt is under way for a suspect whom Cleveland police say filmed his fatal shooting of an elderly man, in a video that he posted to Facebook.

In a later video, also posted to Facebook on Sunday afternoon, Steve Stephens, the accused shooter, says he has killed more than a dozen other people. Police have not verified that claim.

Cleveland police have identified the homicide victim from the video as 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr.

Contrary to earlier reports, a Facebook spokesperson now tells NPR via email that "the murder was not broadcast live on Facebook (it was uploaded), although the suspect did go live at one point during the day."

At a news conference earlier Sunday, however, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams had said that the suspect "broadcast the killing on Facebook Live," and, referring to a separate video, "claimed to have committed multiple other homicides which are still not verified."

"There are no more victims that we know are tied to him," he added.

Williams also appealed directly to Stephens, urging him to turn himself in to police and not to "do anymore harm to anybody."

According to Cleveland.com, "Stephens has also written several Facebook statuses saying his claims of the additional killings are real and saying he was shooting because of 'Joy Lane.' "

The incident took place on East 93rd Street just south of the Interstate 90 in the city's Glenville neighborhood, Cleveland police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said.

The video stayed up on Facebook for almost three hours before it was taken down. Stephens' page has also been removed.

"This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook," the Facebook spokesperson told NPR in an email. "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."

Stephens, described by police as a bald and bearded, 6-foot-1-inch black man at 240 pounds, may be driving a new model of a white Ford Fusion with a temporary license plate.

An undated photo provided by the Cleveland Police shows Steve Stephens. Cleveland police say they are searching for Stephens, a homicide suspect, who broadcast the fatal shooting of another man live on Facebook on Sunday. AP



Manhunt in Cleveland After Video of Killing Posted to Facebook

Cleveland police were still searching Monday for a man who they said filmed himself killing an elderly man, uploaded the video to Facebook and bragged about having committed many other homicides.

The suspect, identified as Steve Stephens, is considered armed and dangerous, police said after the homicide in northeast Cleveland near the Lake Erie shore.

An aggravated murder warrant was issued for Stephens' arrest, and police said early Monday that he may have fled Ohio. The FBI was providing assistance, a spokeswoman told NBC News.

Police initially said Sunday that the man "broadcast the killing on Facebook Live," but a spokesperson for the social media site later said the video was recorded and uploaded. Stevens did use Facebook Live at least once on Sunday, the spokesperson said.

Police said Stephens' claim in one video to have committed multiple other homicides had not been verified. "There are no other victims that we know of," Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference.

Authorities said the killing of the one confirmed victim, Robert Godwin, 74, appeared to be random.

"It's senseless," Williams said.

There had been no sighting of Stephens since the killing at 2 p.m., Williams said, and it wasn't clear whether he was still in Cleveland. Earlier, students at Cleveland State University, near downtown, were told to shelter in place or stay away from the school.

Williams said alerts had been sent out across the state, and Gov. John Kasich promised the Ohio State Highway Patrol's help.

A series of posts Sunday on what authorities said was Stephens' Facebook page complained that he had "lost everything" to gambling. The posts named specific people whom the user wanted to talk to, and at one point he wrote "I killed 12 people today" and wouldn't stop until he could speak to his mother and a second woman.

Later, the user posted: "I killed 15 today because of [the second woman]." The user called it his "Easter day slaughter."

NBC News archived the posts before the account was removed. "This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook," the company said.

Williams didn't address the details of the Facebook posts, but said: "If Steve has an issue, he needs to talk to folks to get that resolved."

"Steve, I know you have relationships with the clergy out here," Williams added. "I encourage you to call them and turn yourself in."

A longtime friend and fraternity brother of Stephens', Gary Jackson, told NBC News that when they spoke last Thursday, everything seemed fine. They'd even made plans to get together this week.

Jackson, 47, said Stephens mentored foster kids — Beech Brook, a children's mental health center, confirmed his employment — and described him as a quiet guy with a good heart who'd never shown a sliver of aggression.

In Jackon's view, it was Stephens' personal turmoil that spun him out of control.

"I don't think he's killed those 14, 15 people," he said. "From what I know of him that's just him calling out for help."

Jackson added that he sent Stephens a text making sure that his friend knew as much.

"Whatever it is hurting you — you're about to put that pain on somebody else," Jackson said he told Stephens. "That ain't right."

By Sunday night, Jackson hadn't heard back.

Authorities described Stephens as black, 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighing 244 pounds and bald with a full beard. He was last seen wearing a black or dark blue and gray striped polo shirt and was driving a white Ford Fusion with temporary tags, authorities said.


Cleveland Ohio Facebook killer hunted by police

Police in Ohio are searching for a man who fatally shot a "random" victim and posted the footage on Facebook.
The suspect, Steve Stephens, later said in a separate video post that he had killed 13 people and was looking to kill more.

Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams confirmed one killing but said they did not know of any other victims.
Mr Williams said that "multiple forces" were looking for Mr Stephens, who "needs to turn himself in".
The victim has been identified by Cleveland police as 74-year-old Robert Godwin.

"There is no need for any further bloodshed in this incident tonight," police chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference on Sunday.

"We need to bring this to a conclusion today," he said, adding: "We need to get Steve from the streets."
Mr Williams said that authorities had put out alerts "in the state of Ohio and beyond" over the "senseless" incident, and urged people not to approach the suspect, who he said was likely to remain armed and dangerous.
The Cleveland police department issued a photo of Mr Stephens, 37, on its website, describing him as a 6ft 1in (1.9m) tall black male of medium complexion.

He is thought to be driving a white or cream-coloured SUV (sports utility vehicle).
Mr Williams said that the victim appeared to have been selected at random in what he described as a "senseless" murder.

He added that Mr Stephens "clearly has a problem" and urged him to come forward in order to "receive the help that he needs".

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is collaborating with local police as it investigates the incident, CNN reports.

The mayor of Cleveland, Frank Jackson, said that he wanted Mr Stephens to know that "he will eventually be caught".

A fundraising page set up to help the family of Mr Godwin had received more than half of its target of $20,000 (£16,000) within hours of publication.

Facebook said in a statement on Sunday that it co-operates fully with the authorities in incidents where there are "direct threats to physical safety".

Responding to the reports involving Mr Stephens, the company said that it was "a horrific crime", adding that it "does not allow this kind of content" on its site.

It is not the first time that a fatal shooting has been posted or streamed on Facebook. Last June, a man was shot dead while live-streaming a video of himself on the streets of Chicago. In March, an unidentified man was shot 16 times while broadcasting live.

Facebook's live-streaming feature, which was launched in 2010, allows anyone to broadcast online in real time.

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