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'Facebook murderer' shoots and kills himself during police chase

Police said that Steve Stephens shot himself after a brief pursuit this morning.

Image: AP via Cleveland police

THE MAN WHO randomly killed a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook shot himself to death today in Pennsylvania, police said.

Pennsylvania State Police said Steve Stephens was spotted this morning in Erie County, in the state’s northwest corner. Authorities say officers tried to pull Stephens over and, after a brief pursuit, he shot and killed himself.

He was wanted on an aggravated murder charge in the shooting death of a 74-year-old man who was picking up aluminium cans on Sunday after spending Easter with his family.

Stephens posted a video of himself killing Robert Godwin Senior, a former foundry worker who had 10 children, police said. In it, he said, “I snapped, I just snapped.”

Stephens, 37, shared a recording on Sunday of himself announcing his plan to kill someone, then two minutes later posted another video of himself shooting and killing Godwin, Facebook said.

A few minutes after that, he went live and confessed, the company said.

The company said it disabled Stephen’s account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the video of the fatal shooting and two hours after receiving any report.

Facebook has since announced it was launching a review for reporting harmful content.

Investigators said that Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite his claim on Facebook that he killed over a dozen people.

Officers searched dozens of places around Cleveland without finding Stephens or any other victims before expanding the manhunt. Detectives spoke with the suspect on Sunday by cellphone and tried to persuade him to surrender, police said.

Within a day, authorities expanded the search nationwide and offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture and prosecution.

Law enforcement officials said yesterday that his cellphone was last tracked Sunday afternoon in Erie, Pennsylvania, about 160 kilometers east of Cleveland.

Read: ‘I just snapped’: Alleged Facebook killer who killed pensioner was ‘annoyed with his girlfriend’

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Associated Press

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