The manhunt for the Ohio Facebook killer is over.
Suspect Steve Stephens, who’d been on the run since Easter Sunday, when he posted on Facebook what appeared to be video of himself shooting and killing an older man, shot himself after being approached by police in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
“We would prefer that it had not ended this way because there are a lot of questions I’m sure that, not only the family, but the city in general would’ve had for Steve as to why this transpired,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams.
State troopers responded to a sighting Stephen’s Ford Fusion in the parking lot of a McDonalds’ in Erie at 11 a.m. He led police on a chase for about a mile before pulling over. Stephens then pulled a gun and shot himself as police approached the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Stephens, 37, became the subject of the nationwide manhunt after posting what looked to be his gruesome shooting of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. on a Cleveland street and a later confession to it on Facebook Live.
Stephens’ mother, Maggie Green, told CNN he was “mad with his girlfriend. That’s why he is shooting people and he won’t stop until his mother or girlfriend tell him to stop.”
A signal from his phone had gone out Monday from Erie —about 100 miles east of Cleveland. To aid in the search, the FBI placed billboards all over the country, from Los Angeles to New Orleans to Connecticut, noting he was driving a white Ford sedan.
Williams said the Cleveland police had received over 400 tips regarding Stephens’ whereabouts. The reward for his capture climbed to $50,000.
As the hunt for Stephens dragged on, Godwin’s family gathered to mourn his loss. “Mr. Stephens, we forgive you, but we’re asking you to turn yourself in,” said one of Godwin’s daughters.
The killing triggered soul-searching at Facebook, which once again found its live video product used to broadcast a violent crime. It took the social network nearly two hours to remove the content, which was soon ubiquitous on other platforms such as YouTube.
Late Monday the company issued a timeline of events and said it was “reviewing” its reporting system, which consists of both human monitors and artificial intelligence, to remove “material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible.”