The Cleveland man who allegedly posted a video of himself shooting of an elderly man on Facebook could be “anywhere” — and they urged the public to call in tips of the man’s whereabouts, authorities said at a Monday morning press conference.
Steve Stephens — described as a 6-foot-1, 244-lb. man with a bald head and full beard — allegedly approached 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. and shot him point blank, killing him. While attacking him, Stephens allegedly said that his girlfriend drove him to commit the crime.
Initial reports stated that Godwin’s death was broadcast on Facebook Live, but police have since said that Stephens allegedly killed the man then uploaded the footage to the social media site, NBC News reports.
On Facebook, Stephens allegedly promised that there would be more victims. No other killings have been linked to him at this time and authorities believe his claim was not true, officials said at Monday’s press conference.
A manhunt is underway for Stephens and an aggravated murder warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Early on in the investigation, Stephens spoke with authorities on his cell phone, but authorities said they have not heard from him since, as he has escaped capture.
Acknowledging that they don’t know which way he went, authorities have warned people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan in particular to be on the lookout for Stephens.
“We don’t know where he’s at,” said Chief Calvin Williams of the Cleveland Police at the press conference. “The last location we had him at was at the homicide [in Cleveland]. Anything else is speculation.”
Chief Williams told reporters that police spoke to Stephens on his cell phone, but were unsuccessful in nailing down his whereabouts. “[Police] tried to convince him to turn himself in,” said Williams. “He didn’t. So now we’re asking for the public’s help.”
Steve Anthony, an FBI Special Agent in Cleveland warned the public to be careful and not approach Stephens. “Obviously, this individual is armed and dangerous,” he said. “When in doubt, call 911.”
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“At this point, he could be a lot of places,” he said. “Near, far or in between. We don’t know. We’re using any and all resources to locate him as soon as possible.”
Fake Fundraising Accounts for Victim
In a statement, Facebook pledged to cooperate with authorities.
“This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,” the company said, according to the New York Times. “We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”
Meanwhile, authorities stressed that Godwin’s family was worried about fake GoFundMe accounts in the elderly man’s name. “The family is asking that you do not contribute to any of them at this time,” said Chief Williams. “There are fraudulent ones out there.”
Above all, authorities stress that they will capture Stephens.
“We are going to make this individuals world, very very small,” said U.S. Marshall Pete Elliott. “I’m optimistic. I think things will happen very quickly.”
This is a developing story.