US police hunt man who broadcast murder on Facebook

Officials say the suspect shot a 74-year old Robert Godwin Sr at random on Easter Sunday.

Updated at 10.14am

SS1 2 Steve Stephens Cleveland Police / Twitter Cleveland Police / Twitter / Twitter

POLICE IN THE United States have issued an arrest warrant for a gunman they said murdered a man and then spoke about the crime live on Facebook.

Officials in Cleveland, Ohio, said the suspect, Steve Stephens (37), shot 74-year old Robert Godwin Sr at random on Easter Sunday, in cold blood.

“The suspect…. claimed to have committed multiple other homicides which are still NOT verified,” Cleveland police said in a statement.

Suspect in this case is… armed and dangerous. If seen call 9-1-1. Do not approach.

Facebook said the suspect did go live on the social media website at one point during the day, but not during the killing.

Police earlier had said that Stephens had broadcast it on Facebook Live.

The video of the killing was on Facebook for about three hours before it was removed. Stephens Facebook page also was eventually removed.

“This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook,” said a company spokesperson. “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.”

Police said Stevens may be out of the midwestern state, and asked residents of Indiana, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania to be on alert.

Stevens worked for Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency serving children through mental health services, foster care and adoption, at-risk youth programs and other services.

In his broadcast, Stevens displayed his Beech Brook badge. The facility did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

At a press conference late last night, authorities urged Stephens to turn himself in.

“Everyone is out there looking for Steve. We want this to end with as much peace as we can bring to this right now, and we want him to turn himself in,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams told reporters, adding that local authorities were working with the FBI and regional law enforcement.

We have all of our partners in on this, and we’ll look until we find him.

Mayor Frank Jackson told reporters police were still trying to communicate with the suspect:

We want to communicate to him that we know who he is, and that he will eventually be caught. And that we’re saying to him that he need not do any more.

Stephens was at large after fleeing in a white Ford Fusion with temporary license plates, police said.

SS1 3 The model of car Stephens fled in. Cleveland Police / Twitter Cleveland Police / Twitter / Twitter

Some local media reported that he had boasted on Facebook of killing more than a dozen people in an Easter Day massacre, but authorities said there was no indication of a broader killing spree.

© – AFP, 2017additional reporting by The Associated Press

Read: Two journalists killed during Facebook Live broadcast in Dominican Republic >

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