NETRALNEWS.COM - The man suspected of killing a Cleveland retiree and posting the act on Facebook shot and killed himself after a brief pursuit, Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday.
State police said officers spotted Steve Stephens earlier in the day in Erie County, which borders Ohio, after they received a tip that his vehicle was in a McDonald’s parking lot. Authorities say police tried to pull Mr. Stephens over, but he shot and killed himself after they approached him following a short chase.
Federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies had launched a nationwide manhunt for Mr. Stephens, who was wanted on an aggravated murder charge. Mr. Stephens, who was 37, posted video on Facebook of his seemingly random killing of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland on Sunday.
“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 Mr. 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.
Troopers were dispatched to the scene and began chasing Mr. Stephens in his car. He stopped after about a mile and as police got out of their cars, he drove off.Police then chased him for another mile, when they forced his car to stop.
As troopers approached the car, he shot himself.Police are now searching his car for evidence and said they are still trying to determine where he had been during the manhunt.
On Monday, Cleveland officials announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the suspect. Officials said they had also been in touch with several people that Mr. Stephens had been in contact with, and that they had been cooperative with investigators.
Mr. Stephens’s use of Facebook to broadcast the alleged murder and the subsequent manhunt sparked outrage across the nation, and the social-media company said it was reviewing how it handles objectionable content.
The killing resulted in calls for the company to more closely monitor violence on its site. Mr. Stephens broadcast multiple times on Facebook Live on Sunday, including a phone call in which he said he had “snapped.”
Even so, authorities said there is much they don’t know about what motivated Mr. Stephens. Chief Williams said authorities had been hoping to take Mr. Stephens into custody so they could learn more about what drove him.
Chief Williams noted that Mr. Godwin’s family members had called for Mr. Stephens to turn himself in and said that they forgave him. “We need to follow their lead,” Chief Williams said.