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Steve Stephens dead: Body of ‘Facebook killer’ found by police

Steve Stephens, the ‘Facebook shooter,’ has reportedly shot himself after being spotted by police in Erie, Pennsylvania.

According to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, Pennsylvania State Police received a 911 tip. Mr Stephens’ vehicle was spotted in a McDonald’s parking lot near Erie, approximately 100 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio.

State police attempted a traffic stop and “after a brief pursuit,” Mr Stephens committed suicide, Mr Williams confirmed.

He said federal law enforcement partners had searched that area on 17 April when Mr Stephens mobile phone signal pinged and had gone back to do a more thorough searches on 18 April.

The shooter, Steve Stephens, 37, had been on the run for nearly 48 hours after filming himself walking up to and shooting dead Robert Godwin, 74 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Stephens did not broadcast the killing on Facebook Live but did post the video to his account, where it remained for three hours. His account was later suspended by Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a conference that the company “will keep doing all of what we can to keep tragedies like this from happening.”

Mr Godwin was just walking down the street on Easter Sunday when Mr Stephens pulled up to him and shot him in the head. It appears to have been a random killing.

After the initial search in Cleveland, the search radius had been continuously expanded until it went nationwide on 17 April.

Mr Williams said the police, FBI, and US Marshals Service have been  “getting calls from all over the country, as far away as Texas.”

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Steve Anthony of the FBI and Peter Elliott of the US Marshals Service confirmed that the manhunt for Mr Stephens was a top priority for both federal agencies.

Reports of Mr Stephens being spotted near Philadelphia on 17 April resulted in several schools being put on lock down. The reported turned out to be a false alarm.

CNN reported that Mr Stephens, who worked at a behavioural health agency helping at-risk children, had gone to visit his mother the day before the murder according to his Facebook video.

He reportedly told her that he was suicidal and likely to kill people, however he felt he was not taken seriously.

Also on his posted video was a claim that he had killed several other people in addition to Mr Godwin. Mr Anthony said law enforcement agencies have not found any evidence to verify that claim as yet.

No information has been verified as yet regarding Mr Stephens whereabouts between Mr Godwin’s murder and being spotted by the police. Police could not confirm whether Mr Stephens had any ties or connections to the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

For the time being Facebook relies on its users to flag inappropriate content such as Mr Stephens’ video of him killing Mr Godwin. Mr Zuckerberg said the company would focus on civic engagement more in the future to avoid having “this kind of content” being posted to the site.


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