PA State Police: Steve Stephens commits suicide following brief chase

ERIE, Pa. (WIVB) — Steve Stephens told his Facebook followers on Easter Sunday he had killed more than a dozen people. But when the manhunt came to a close early Tuesday, two men were dead, one of which was the 37-year-old Stephens, who had shot himself.

Stephens’ sole victim was 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr., who was walking home from a family get together celebrating the holiday. Late Sunday morning, Stephens posted a video on Facebook that showed him killing Godwin.

Authorities in multiple states had been searching for him since then. They received nearly 400 tips.

“This investigation would be nowhere without tips,” said Maj. William A. Teper, Jr.

Authorities were called to a McDonald’s in eastern Erie, Pa., at about 11:10 a.m. Tuesday, when an employee there recognized Stephens at the drive thru. They tried to stall him by telling him his french fries were not ready, but he sped off with half his order, a 20-piece order of chicken nuggets.
Police followed him a short distance, not reaching speeds of more than 50 mph, and employed what’s known as a P.I.T. maneuver, which spins the vehicle around to stop it.
Teper said after Stephens’ car spun around, troopers watched him put a gun to his head and pull the trigger.

More than 100 miles away from where Stephens committed suicide, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams told media gathered at City Hall, “the search for Steve Stephens has ended.”

Williams said the investigation will continue.

“There’s a lot of things about this that we don’t know,” he said, offering the example “there are a lot of places to hide in east Erie.”

“People in the area may have seen him and not put two and two together in the past couple days,” Williams said.

Federal partners were involved in the hunt for Stephens, and were stationed in Erie. Law enforcement officials were on alert in the Erie area, because Teper said “Mr. Stephens was a gambler.”

It is not clear if Stephens was being helped by anyone.

Regarding the spread of the video on social media, Williams said “‘This is something that should not have been shared around the world. Period. We can’t do this in this country.”

“I think people on social media know the power and the harm it can do,” Williams said.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

Tia Byes, of Erie, said she was at the McDonald’s when Stephens pulled up.
“It was scary. I’m happy they caught him,” she said. “He took the easy way out. He should be in jail. But I’m glad whatever happened … it was scary, though because it could have been anybody in Erie that it happened to. That old man lost his life on Facebook live. His family had to see that.”
Tyhee Page, who lives in the east Erie area, said he felt compelled to join — at some points throughout the day — hundreds of people who line the scene perimeter to watch on as police processed the scene.
“We’re from a small city so this is the type of stuff that you really don’t expect to happen,” he said. “We’ve been hearing that this man has been in Erie probably since it happened and nobody believed it because Erie is not but so small, stuff like this doesn’t happen.”
Page said he feels for the family of Robert Godwin.
“It just goes to show that anything can happen, any one of us could’ve been that old man today, and we didn’t even know it,” Page said. “It’s heartbreaking because there’s already a lot of violence going on in our black community anyway. So for another black man to kill an older black man — this is somebody were supposed to look up to and want to aspire to be like one day — and you get out of your car and randomly kill him just because, it’s heartbreaking.”
The FBI is in charge of the $50,000 reward that was being offered for the capture Stephens. Federal authorities said late Tuesday they do not disclose details of any reward payment, per the agency’s protocol.

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