Homicide Investigation, Steve Stephens/Facebook Incident Final Update
The City of Cleveland offers condolences to all affected by the death of Robert Godwin, Sr. The days and weeks moving forward will be difficult for them. As services are planned and attended, the City of Cleveland asks that the community and the media be respectful of the privacy of those affected.
Today at approximately 11am, Cleveland Division of Police Command was notified that Pennsylvania State Police had, through a tip from a citizen, located the suspect vehicle wanted in the homicide of Robert Godwin, Sr. Pennsylvania State Police, in marked patrol vehicles, attempted to stop the vehicle. The suspect fled in the white Ford Fusion and, after a short pursuit, the suspect took his own life. No injuries to members of the community or to law enforcement were reported. The suspect, Steve Stephens was pronounced deceased on scene.
Please see update from Pennsylvania State Police here. Requests for information directly relating to the incident involving the Pennsylvania State Police should be directed to the Pennsylvania State Police.
This investigation remains in the early stages. Reward monies in this case were offered through Crime Stoppers. The City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Division of Police are not involved in any reward monies that may be paid to individuals who provided the tips leading to the suspect’s location.
On Sunday, April 16, 2017 at approximately 2pm, officers of the Cleveland Division of Police responded to East 93rd Street for a male shot. Mr. Godwin was found deceased with a gunshot wound to his head. Further information to officers revealed that the incident was posted to social media via Facebook Live. Facebook later released a statement clarifying that this information had been pre-recorded and uploaded to Facebook, but that the suspect had streamed a confession on Facebook Live.
Officers immediately began a search for this suspect upon learning his identity. The Cleveland Division of Police quickly partnered with outside law enforcement agencies including the FBI in the effort to locate the suspect. Media and social media releases were composed and tips began to pour into the Communications Control Center. The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated where law enforcement activity, tips and strategies could be monitored and discussed. The EOC was staffed by members of the Cleveland Division of Police, the City of Cleveland Office of Emergency Management and supporting law enforcement agencies.
Through investigative tactics, it was learned that Steve Stephens may be in the Erie, PA area on Sunday afternoon around 4:30pm. Law enforcement was contacted and dispatched to the area with negative results. Beyond that initial information, law enforcement did not receive any additional tips leading to the area of Erie, PA until the tip that was provided this morning ultimately leading to Steve Stephens’ location.
The search for Stephens quickly went from a local investigation to a nationwide manhunt. Due to the spread of the shocking video of the murder on social media, people across the nation were subjected to the violence and became afraid. Tips continued to pour in from the community to be vetted and investigated. Through the establishment of a Joint Information Center in the EOC, our public information team worked to provide consistent, transparent information and dispel rumors both in written updates and regular on camera press briefings.
At this time, the City of Cleveland would like to thank the assisting law enforcement agencies for their unwavering support. Thanks to the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Cuyahoga County Sherriff’s Office; the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Police; the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms; the United States Marshals Service; and additional law enforcement agencies across the U.S., including the Pennsylvania State Police.
In addition, the City of Cleveland thanks the public for their vigilance and dedication to remaining informed and reporting tips regarding this investigation. Citizens are the eyes and ears of law enforcement and many cases would go unsolved if not for the public.
The City of Cleveland’s Joint Information Center will deactivate today at 5 pm. Further questions regarding the investigation can be addressed with Sgt. Ciaccia.
Here is the link for today’s 12pm press conference:
Link for Public Records Released: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/94u4agdbqy7o6d1/AABzAULXkbcO94A6QEK9CT-Ca?dl=0
Special thanks to our media partners for confirming information through our Joint Information Center and providing timely, reliable and accurate updates to the public.