The search for a suspect who police believe randomly shot a man walking along a Cleveland-area sidewalk on Sunday before posting a video of the fatal shooting on Facebook broadened nationwide on Monday as officials acknowledged that they did not know where the man was and announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
The police in Philadelphia said that they had received multiple reports of unconfirmed sightings of the wanted man, Steve Stephens, at the Belmont Plateau park area in the western part of the city. In a statement on Monday afternoon, however, they said that so far, there was “no indication” that the suspect had actually been there, though they had locked down nearby schools as a precaution.
Chief Calvin D. Williams of the Cleveland Police Department said on Monday that the authorities had searched “every location” where Mr. Stephens has resided, as well as places were his family members live. They have recovered items, including weapons, and “other things that are pertinent to the investigation,” he said, without specifying to whom those items belonged.
“I think we can say without a doubt, he’s armed,” Chief Williams said. “Steve, if you’re out there listening, call someone.”
Mr. Stephens, 37, is being sought in what the authorities said was a random shooting of Robert Godwin Sr., 74. (The police initially identified him as Robert Goodwin Sr.)
A warrant for Mr. Stephens’s arrest on a charge of aggravated murder has been issued, and the police asked residents of Indiana, Michigan, New York, northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania to be on alert. Mr. Stephens said in a video on Sunday that he had killed multiple people, but the police said there was only one known victim.
At an earlier news conference, Chief Williams said detectives had talked to Mr. Stephens on the phone, but he did not elaborate. Mr. Stephens had many motor vehicle violations but no criminal record, he said.
In the minute-long shooting video, a driver pulls up to an older man on a sidewalk. The driver asks the man to say a person’s name, then pulls out a gun and shoots him. Afterward, the victim can be seen on the sidewalk, with a streak of what appears to be blood near his head.
The police originally said that Mr. Stephens broadcast the shooting on Facebook Live, but Facebook said that while he had posted a live video at some point on Sunday, the shooting itself was not live. By late afternoon on Sunday, the videos had been removed from Facebook and the account had been deactivated.
Mr. Stephens blamed his actions on his mother and an ex-girlfriend, Joy Lane, who in a statement said she was sorry “that all of this has happened,” television station Cleveland19 reported.
“My heart & prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s),” she wrote in a message to CBS News. “Steve really is a nice guy … he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children.”
Mr. Stephens has worked at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency that serves children, since 2008, the agency said in a statement. He had been a vocational specialist since April 2015 and before that was a youth mentor.
“We were shocked and horrified yesterday to learn about the situation involving the threats by Steve Stephens and the tragic shooting of Mr. Godwin,” the agency said, adding that its office would be closed on Monday “out of concerns for the safety of our staff, clients and other visitors to our sites.”
Chief Williams said that several GoFundMe fund-raising accounts had been created on behalf of Mr. Godwin but that the family had asked the public not to donate to those accounts. He said the victim’s family would make an announcement about fund-raising arrangements.
via NY Times
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