Local, state and federal law enforcement officers are frantically searching for a suspect accused of shooting and killing a 74-year-old man Sunday in Cleveland and then posting a video of the coldblooded slaying on Facebook.
Authorities said Monday that theÂ suspect, identified by police as 37-year-old Steve Stephens, is at large amid a multistate manhunt.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams announced atÂ a morning news conference that authorities have followed numerous leads and searched various locationsÂ to no avail, saying,Â âSteve is still out there someplace.â
âWeâre still asking Steve to turn himself in, but if he doesnât, weâll find him,â Williams added. âWeâre not going to stop until heâs in custody.â
Authorities saidÂ Stephens pulled up in his Ford Fusion onÂ a road in east Cleveland about 2 p.m. Sunday and said in the video:Â âI found somebody Iâm about to kill.â
âIâm about to kill this guy right here; heâs an old dude,â Stephens said as he approached Robert Godwin Sr., who was reportedly out looking for aluminum cans to collect.
âCan you do me a favor?â Stephens said to Godwin before asking him toÂ say the name Joy Lane.
âJoy Lane?â Godwin responded.
âYeah,â Stephens replied. âSheâs the reason why this is about to happen to you.â
The video showed him ask Godwin how old he was, then raise aÂ gun and pull the trigger.Â The camera spun around; when the picture came into focus, Godwinâs body was on the ground.
It allÂ lasted less than a minute.
In a second video,Â Stephens is seen on his cellphone, telling someone to go online to watch the footage.
âI canât talk to you right now; I fââ up, man,â he said.
âMost importantly, I shamed myself,â he added in a video posted by Cleveland.com. âI snapped. Dog, I just snapped, dog. I just snapped. I just killed 13 motherfââ, man. Thatâs what I did â I killed 13 people. And Iâm about to keep killing until they catch me, fâ it. â¦ IâmÂ working on 14 as we speak.â
Stephens said he was killing people because of Joy Lane.
âShe put me at my pushing point, man,â Stephens said in the video, laughing and calling it the âEaster Sunday Joy Lane massacre.â
CBS News reported that it communicated with Lane via text message on Monday.
âWe had been in a relationship for several years,â she wrote, according to the network. âI am sorry that all of this has happened. My heart & prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s). Steve really is a nice guy â¦ he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children. This is a very difficult time for me and my family Please respect our privacy at this time.â
Police said the woman is safe and has beenÂ cooperating with investigators during the manhunt but did not give any other details.
During Mondayâs news conference, Williams, the police chief, asked the public to call 911 with any information and pleaded with those who know where Stephens is to report his whereabouts to authorities.
âIf thereâs somebody thatâs helping Steve, or if you think youâre helping Steve, youâre really not,â he said. âYouâre going to get yourself in trouble, along with him. The only way for you to help him is to give us the information to bring him in safely, peacefully.â
Williams said that early in the investigation, authorities had contact withÂ Stephens via cellphone but that his last known location was the site whereÂ Godwin was killed.
Authorities said the two men did not know each other. In the video,Â Stephens claimed to have killed more than a dozen people, police said, although they have not confirmed any other victims. Authorities have issued a warrant on a charge of aggravated murderÂ for Stephens. Amid a multistate manhunt, police said Monday that residents inÂ Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan should be on âalert,âÂ warning thatÂ Stephens mayÂ have fled Ohio.
Authorities described Stephens as a 6-foot-1, 244-pound black man, with a bald head and a full beard. He is âarmed and dangerous,â police said. âIf seen call 9-1-1. Do not approach.â
Police said he was driving a white Ford Fusion with temporary Ohio tag numberÂ E363630.
The video of Sundayâs homicide was not broadcast live, as police had initially stated. It was posted after the fact, Facebook said late Sunday, and was viewable for about three hours before it was removed and Stephensâs profile was deactivated.
Facebook Live launched in 2015 and allows users to stream live video to their Facebook pages, where others can watch in real time or after the fact. The service is used in a variety of capacities, from broadcasting breaking news, protests and events to giving lectures or communicating with friends.Â As live videos have gained audience and prominence, critics have questioned how the company should best control the feature to avoid potentially horrific scenes.
The video is likely to reignite a debate about the haunting reach of grisly violence in the Internet age and follows shocking beatings and killings shared in real time, or soon after, on a global stage.
Three men were shot last year in Norfolk while one was broadcasting live on Facebook from inside a car. And in 2015, a shooter killed a TV journalist and her cameraman during a live television broadcast before posting his own video of the killing on Facebook.
In January, four people in Chicago were accused of attacking an 18-year-old disabled man while broadcasting the assault on Facebook Live. They have since pleaded not guilty.
Other live platforms have been used to broadcast similarÂ videos. An Ohio woman was accused of broadcasting her friendâs rape on Periscope, Twitterâs live-streaming service.
âThis is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,â a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. âWe 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.â
Police said the Easter Sunday shooting of Godwin occurred on a residential road in east Clevelandâs Glenville neighborhood. In the video, the man identified as Godwin is seen walking alone on a sidewalk, wearing a blue plaid shirt and holding a grocery bag.
âWhat happened today is senseless,â Williams, the police chief, told reporters Sunday. âI know, Steve, that you have a relationship with some of our clergy in Northeast Ohio. I encourage you to give them a call and then call us and turn yourself in.â
Posts on Stephensâs Facebook page said he had âlost everythingâ to gambling and wanted to speak to several people he named, according to NBC News, which initially saved the Facebook posts before they were removed.
The posts also said that Stephens âkilled 12 people todayâ during what he called his âEaster day slaughterâ and would not surrender until he could speak to two women, including his mother.
The police chief said there has been only one homicide and âwe want to keep it that way.â
Authorities said Stephens has had some traffic violations but no criminal history.
The police chief added that the victimâs familyÂ said there are severalÂ GoFundMe pages that have been set up by peopleÂ outside the family and haveÂ requested that the public refrain from contributing toÂ them at this time.
The family is set to give a statement Monday afternoon.
Stephens has worked at Beech Brook, a childrenâs behavioral health center in Ohio, since 2008, theÂ company said in a statement. Most recently, the companyÂ said, heÂ has been working as a vocational specialist for the Assertive Community Treatment team for youths and young adults.
âWe were shocked and horrified yesterday to learn about the situation involving the threats by Steve Stephens and the tragic shooting of Mr. Godwin. Our hearts go out to his family during this time of grief,â Beech Brook spokeswoman Nancy Kortemeyer said Monday in a statement. âBeech Brookâs offices will be closed today out of concerns for the safety of our staff, clients and other visitors to our sites.â
Godwinâs family members were in tears when they spoke Sunday with local reporters.
âIt feels like my heart is going to stop,â one woman said.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the suspectâs license plate and wronglyÂ stated the year Facebook launched its live-streaming feature. This story has been updated.