The family of an elderly Ohio man killed on Sunday in a disturbing video uploaded to Facebook described him as a loving father and grandfather, and urged the public to not share the footage of his death.
Police suspect that Steve Stephens gunned down 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in a random attack before allegedly sharing a video of the murder on Facebook and bragging that he had killed 14 more people, according to a statement from Cleveland police.
“I haven’t watched the video. I haven’t even looked at my cellphone or the news,” Godwin’s son, Robert Godwin Jr., told The Plain Dealer. “I don’t really want to see it.”
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. Stephens did allegedly use Facebook Live at least once on Sunday, authorities said.
In a series of Facebook posts from a now-deleted account police believe to have belonged to Stephens, the man called the killing his “Easter day slaughter,” according to NBC. He complained that he had “lost everything” from gambling.
He wrote that he “killed 15 people today.”
However, Godwin’s murder is the only death that has been confirmed in the situation, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a Sunday press conference.
“There are no other victims that we know of,” Williams said, calling the killing “senseless.”
A manhunt is underway for Stephens and an aggravated murder warrant has been issued for him. Williams urged Stephens to turn himself in, noting that Stephens has “a relationship with some of our clergy.”
Now, as police search for the alleged killer, who they said may have fled Ohio, the victim’s family is urging the public to not share the gruesome footage.
“I can’t watch that video of my grandfather getting killed,” one Twitter user wrote. “That man is sick, please stop posting it.”
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Ryan Godwin tweeted: “If you guys are going to exploit my grandfathers legacy for some retweets at least honor him by getting his name right GOD-WIN not Goodwin.”
Robert Jr. told The Plain Dealer that Godwin had nine children and 14 grandchildren, adding that the retired foundry worker loved to go fishing.
He said he last saw his father on Sunday, when the man stopped by his house to pick up some basketball equipment.
“He hugged my wife and me and said, ‘I’ll see you guys next time,’ ” Robert Jr. recalled. “I said, ‘Okay, enjoy your Easter.’ “
He said that he and his family are still working to process what happened, and are hoping that the killer is captured soon.
“I just want him caught,” Robert Jr. said of the gunman. “Because he can do it to somebody else.”