Manhunt on in US for Facebook gunman

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announces a reward of up to US$50,000 (S$70,000) dollars for the arrest of Steve Stephens, the murder suspect who police say posted a Facebook video of himself shooting an elderly man.
An aggravated murder warrant has been issued for Steve Stephens.
An aggravated murder warrant has been issued for Steve Stephens.

Suspect shoots and kills man, aged 74, then posts video of killing on social network site

CLEVELAND • Local and federal law enforcement officers in the United States are frantically searching for a suspect who is accused of shooting and killing a 74-year-old man in Cleveland and then posting a video of the slaying on Facebook.

The suspect, identified by police as 37-year-old Steve Stephens, pulled his Ford Fusion to the side of a road in east Cleveland, Ohio state, at about 2 pm on Sunday and said in the video: "I found somebody I'm about to kill. I'm about to kill this guy right here; he's an old dude," Stephens said as he approached Mr Robert Godwin Sr, who was looking for aluminium cans on the sidewalk.

"Can you do me a favour?" Stephens said to Mr Godwin, before asking him to say the name Joy Lane. "Joy Lane?" Mr Godwin responded. "Yeah," Stephens replied. "She's the reason why this is about to happen to you."

He asked Mr Godwin how old he was, then raised a gun and pulled the trigger.

The camera spun around. When the picture came back into focus, Mr Godwin's body was on the ground. The interaction lasted less than a minute. The woman Stephens referred to is his girlfriend.

The authorities said the two men did not know each other.

In the video, Stephens claimed to have killed more than a dozen people, police said, though they have not confirmed any other victims.

The authorities have issued an aggravated murder warrant for Stephens. Amid a multi-state manhunt, police said yesterday that residents in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan should be on the alert, warning that Stephens may have fled Ohio.

The video of Sunday's homicide was not broadcast live, as police had initially stated.

It was posted after the fact, Facebook said late on Sunday, and was viewable for about three hours before it was removed and Stephens' profile deactivated.

"What happened today is senseless," Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference. "I know, Steve, that you have a relationship with some of our clergy in north-east Ohio. I encourage you to give them a call... and turn yourself in."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Manhunt on in US for Facebook gunman'. Print Edition | Subscribe