Cleveland police say that they are searching for a man who allegedly shot and killed an elderly man while broadcasting the entire murder on Facebook Live.
According to police, the gunman, Steve Stephens, who goes by Stevie Steve on Facebook, claims to have killed others, though only one appears to have been captured on Facebook Live. That is, so far, the only murder that police have been able to confirm.
Steve Stephens is the suspect who claims to have killed 12-13 people. Right now, Cleveland Police have only 1 confirmed victim. pic.twitter.com/2AJtHKZVyV
— Scott Carlson (@ScottCarlson19) April 16, 2017
The shooting in question occurred at 635 East 93rd Street at about 2 p.m. local time on Easter Sunday, police said. The city has been on high alert since that time, with police warning people to try to stay inside. They have also swarmed several areas.
“We need Steve to turn himself in,” Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a press conference shortly after the murder. “Right now, there are two families out there hurting. [The victim’s] family and of course, there are people out there who care about Steve and want to see this not go any further.”
We’ve brought everything to bear on this, from our federal partners, our state and local partners. And everybody is out there looking for Steve. We want this to end with as much peace as we can bring to this right now … What happened today is senseless,” the police chief added.
Here are five quick facts about Stephens and the incident:
1. Cleveland Police have authenticated a video posted on Facebook Live which depicts an elderly man speaking to the person filming, and then being shot by that person. The video was posted to the Facebook account of user Stevie Steve, who has since been identified to be Steve Stephens by Cleveland police.
In the shocking video, Stephens says, while he is driving down the road, “Found me somebody I’m going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude.” He then exits his vehicle, walks up to the man and begins speaking to him. After he asks him how old he is, he then asks him to say a woman’s name.
At that point, he pulls out his gun. The old man holds up his hands, including a bag he was carrying, in a defensive posture and appears to say “I don’t know nobody.” At that point, the gunman shoots a single bullet at the man’s head. The man is seen afterward bleeding on the ground.
The elderly victim has been identified as 74 year old Robert Godwin. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help his family.
2. Family members of the murdered individual said that he was 74 years old. “He’s a good guy. He’d give you the shirt off his back,” one family member told reporters. “This man right here was a good man. I hate he’s gone. It’s not real.”
— Shanice (@ShaniceDunning) April 16, 2017
I don't think I've ever interviewed a stronger family. Robert Godwin's family message to suspect- "We forgive you. Please turn yourself in" pic.twitter.com/ARY1sa0KA3
— Jessica Dill (@JessicaLynnDill) April 17, 2017
The police Chief said that the victim was chosen randomly in a “senseless” killing.
“We don’t know why. It’s senseless,” Williams said. “There was no need for this gentleman to lose his life. If this person needs some help, which obviously he does. He needs to call someone, he needs to turn himself in so he can get the help he needs. He can’t keep victimizing this community based on his issues.”
“This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,” Facebook said in a statement. “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.”
3. In the first of some four hours of Facebook posts that he did before his account was shut down by the company, Stephens claimed that he had killed 12 people, calling the shootings an “Easter day slaughter.” In a later post, he amended the number of people he had killed to 15.
However, police have not been able to confirm any murders outside of the one that he captured on video, though they continue to search for any other potential victims.
“I’m the #goodguy,” he wrote in a post.
He also claimed that many of the bodies were in an abandoned house. “This shit is real,” he wrote.
In another video, Stephens claims to have “snapped,” stating that he has a “lot of built in anger and frustration.”
“I snapped, dog, I just snapped,” he tells a man on the phone. “I just killed 13 motherf*ckers man. That’s what I did, I killed 13 people and I’m about to keep killing until they catch me. F*ck it.”
In another video, he says, “the people I’m going to kill today, it’s Easter Sunday, it’s not my first. I’ve got a few people that’s over here off this street … it’s an abandoned house, I kind of lost count. I didn’t keep score. But I’m going to keep score today. I’m bout to have me some fun, I guess.”
“The vengeance is about to happen,” he says.
4. Stephens blamed the shooting(s) on a woman, apparently his girlfriend, named Joy. “Three years I spent with this bitch … I wish we never met,” he wrote.
That’s consistent with his actions with the elderly man which he allegedly murdered. In the video he asks the man to say the girlfriend’s name before he shoots him. “She’s the reason this is about to happen to you,” he says to the man moments before he guns him down.
He claims that his girlfriend “drove him crazy,” saying that they were supposed to get married. “We are all human and we all have breaking points,” he added.
Stephens also talks about an attempt he made to visit with his mother, but that she did not care when he told her that he was feeling suicidal and homicidal.
“Didn’t care, it don’t matter, people would come to me with their problems, I would deal with my problems everyday,” Stephens says. “But when it comes to my problems, nobody gives a f*ck. It’s like I’m always the bad guy, no matter what the f*ck I do, people always making it out on me…. Innocent people about to die today. Hopefully I’m going to try and kill as many people as I can and be on death row or whatever the case may be. I just don’t give a f*ck no more. I’m beat, I’m tired, you know.”
In another post he talked about problems he had had in the past year. “I lost everything I ever had due to gambling,” he wrote. “I do not go into details but I’m a (sic) my breaking point I’m really on some murder shit. … FB you have 4 minutes to tell me why I shouldn’t be on death row!!! I’m dead serious. #teamdeathrow.”
In a video, he says “I’m 37 and all my f*cking life I’ve just always been a f*cking monster, man. Always had to prove myself, always had to take the butts of people’s jokes.”
“I’m killing motherf*ckrs, all because of this bitch… She’s putting me at my pushing point,” he says. “I was living over there with her, I woke up Friday and I just couldn’t take it anymore, I just left. Here I am, massacring motherf*ckers. Today is the Easter Day (girlfriend’s name) massacre.”
The victim’s family on Monday told reporters that they want Stephen’s ex-girlfriend to know that this is not her fault, and that she should not feel responsible.
The Godwin family also tells me they want Steve Stephen's ex-girlfriend to know this is NOT her fault. She should NOT feel responsible pic.twitter.com/uH4lc4ckJU
— Jessica Dill (@JessicaLynnDill) April 17, 2017
5. In a video, Stephens says that he is a case manager at Beech Brook, a children’s behavioral health agency based in northeast Ohio.
In one of his videos, Stephens placed blame on his workplace for driving him to kill people.
“We are shocked and horrified like everyone else,” said Nancy Kortemeyer, a spokeswoman for Beech Brook said in a statement. “To think that one of our employees could do this is awful. … We don’t know anything more about it. We Hope and pray that he is arrested as soon as possible and we hope and pray for a resolution quickly.”
Stephens’ family posted a message on his Twitter account, though the account seems to have since been suspended by Twitter:
On behalf of the entire Stephens family, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Robert Godwin Sr., his family and all of the victims families that have been affected by this tragedy. I have taken the liberty of deleting all of Steve’s tweets, as I do not want any pictures of our family to be associated with this murderer. We absolutely do not condone this type of behavior and this atrocity, therefore we do not consider Steve a part of this family. I would like everyone to refrain from posting pictures of our family in association with Steve, for we do not want our young ones to be burdened by this man. Please respect our privacy.
We do not have information concerning the whereabouts of Steven. If you have any serious inquiries, please DM this account.
Remember to pray for the victims and their families.
The Stephens Family