A manhunt is under way for a suspect whom Cleveland police say filmed his fatal shooting of an elderly man, in a video that he posted to Facebook.
In a later video, also posted to Facebook on Sunday afternoon, Steve Stephens, the accused shooter, says he has killed more than a dozen other people. Police have not verified that claim.
Cleveland police have identified the homicide victim from the video as 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr.
Contrary to earlier reports, a Facebook spokesperson now tells NPR via email that “the murder was not broadcast live on Facebook (it was uploaded), although the suspect did go live at one point during the day.”
At a news conference earlier Sunday, however, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams had said that the suspect “broadcast the killing on Facebook Live,” and, referring to a separate video, “claimed to have committed multiple other homicides which are still not verified.”
“There are no more victims that we know are tied to him,” he added.
Williams also appealed directly to Stephens, urging him to turn himself in to police and not to “do anymore harm to anybody.”
According to Cleveland.com, “Stephens has also written several Facebook statuses saying his claims of the additional killings are real and saying he was shooting because of ‘Joy Lane.’ “
The incident took place on East 93rd Street just south of the Interstate 90 in the city’s Glenville neighborhood, Cleveland police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said.
The video stayed up on Facebook for almost three hours before it was taken down. Stephens’ page has also been removed.
“This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,” the Facebook spokesperson told NPR in an email. 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.”
Stephens, described by police as a bald and bearded, 6-foot-1-inch black man at 240 pounds, may be driving a new model of a white Ford Fusion with a temporary license plate.
This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We’ll move quickly to correct the record and we’ll only point to the best information we have at the time.