Police in Pennsylvania announced Tuesday that Steve Stephens, dubbed a Facebook killer, committed suicide after being cornered by local police cars in Erie. Stephens, who broadcast live on Facebook a video in which he coldly killed an elderly man from Cleveland, Ohio, and announced his intention to continue committing killings because of a disillusionment
“Pennsylvania state police officers were alerted to the presence of the suspect’s vehicle in a McDonald’s parking lot. The patrols went to the scene, and a brief chase began. The car stopped, and as the officers approached, Stephens took his own life, “Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams, who led the investigation, told a news conference.
Hours earlier, Williams had admitted that police mobilization at the national level had not yet yielded results. ” We did not locate Steve, but we’re using all the tools available to find him and stop him,” he said.
Local police officers, supported by the FBI and the ATF (Agency for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and the sheriffs’ departments participated in the operation. The reward for information leading to the arrest of the fugitive was $ 50,000.
The hunt for the suspect, who had no criminal record but many traffic tickets, widened in the hours following the murder, and authorities alerted the neighboring states of Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and also New York, where the perpetrator had a family.
“We preferred to find Stephen alive,” said Williams, who in the previous hours addressed the killer by appealing to him to surrender. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson thanked the various police forces who participated in the search for the murderer , whose photos were distributed in the press, along with the description and license plates of the vehicle he was driving at the time of the murder, a Ford Fusion bank , With provisional plates.
Authorities issued an arrest warrant for qualified homicide against Stephens , described as a bearded black man, six-and-a-half pounds, last seen in the Ford Fusion. Within 24 hours of the crime, it was believed that he was still inside the car. His mother told CNN she talked to her son on Sunday after seeing the video and told her she was shooting at people because she was “annoyed with his girlfriend.” Police have clarified that the woman he referred to, identified as Joy Lane, is “in a safe place.”
Detectives in Cleveland also contacted Stephens early on in the investigation, according to the local police chief. “They tried to convince him to surrender, but it has not happened so far,” Williams said during the operation. The police chief said the authorities had “searched” various searches, including all the places he frequented, the houses where he lived and the homes of his relatives. “If there’s someone who’s helping Steve or believing you’re helping him, it’s not like that. You’re getting into a mess with him, “he warned.
According to the chronology of the incident, reconstituted by police and Facebook, Stephens published a video on Sunday afternoon saying that he intended to kill someone, and two minutes later released the video of the crime, but not by Facebook Live , as reported initially. His victim was Robert Godwin, 74, who had been killed by Stephens when he returned home after an Easter lunch. Apparently, it was chosen at random. The man was 74, with nine children and 14 grandchildren. “I already killed 13 and I’m looking for the 14th. While I’m talking, “the alleged murderer said in the video, but police say he only has information about this gunman in the area.
This is the latest crime transmitted by a Facebook user, an increasingly common practice that the social network tries to stop . Earlier this month, a group of teenagers broadcast live the rape of a 15-year-old girl in Chicago. In the same town, four other youths showed a beating in a mentally handicapped boy. In January, three young women also filmed the rape of a woman in Sweden. The videos were deleted by Facebook, and the suspect’s account was disabled about two hours after he started posting the videos.