Police investigators in Cleveland have launched a major manhunt for the man they believe live-streamed a random act of murder on Facebook Live.
The suspect, identified as 37-year-old Steve Stephens, was seen in the distressing video walking up to 74-year-old Robert Godwin, who Stephens reportedly had no prior relationship with. Stephens then raises a gun, shooting him at point-blank range. Emergency responders later confirmed that Godwin died as a result of the assault. The live video remained active on Stephens’ Facebook account for 3 hours after the attack. His account has subsequently been deleted.
Stephens was seen in a second video, again initially broadcast live to Facebook, appearing distressed as he spoke on the phone to an unknown person, claiming he had already shot 13 people and was “working on the 14th.” Ohio officials were quick to refute that claim, asserting that any additional potential homicides are “yet to be verified.” In other text-based status updates posted on Facebook, Stephens claimed to have shot a varying number of people.
Facebook has been quick to condemn the attack today, despite the original video remaining online for a considerable amount of time. In a statement issued to press, Facebook asserted that this was “a horrific crime,” and that they “do not allow this type of content.”
Facebook statement on Cleveland shooting video: “This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content” https://t.co/G8mpL2QxfI
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) April 16, 2017
Stephens had earlier made additional posts on Facebook claiming that he had “lost everything” to gambling, and had labelled his own actions as an “Easter Day slaughter.”
Ohio police are undergoing a state-wide search for the alleged offender, with several state-run department and educational facilities on lockdown while the search continues.
Law enforcement officials have pleaded for the suspect to turn himself in.
Homicide Suspect Wanted (PHOTO) Steve Stephens https://t.co/WlKymPrQX2 pic.twitter.com/GbkFia7yP6
— Cleveland Police (@CLEpolice) April 16, 2017
More as this story develops.
Source: NBC News.
Photo: Cleveland Police/Twitter.