UPDATED | Steve Stephens, the suspect in a murder uploaded to Facebook on Sunday, shot and killed himself in Erie, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, ending a nationwide manhunt. Pennsylvania State Police confirmed in a tweet shortly before noon that Stephens had committed suicide following a brief pursuit by police after he was spotted Tuesday morning.
Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.— PA State Police (@PAStatePolice) April 18, 2017
Speaking at a press conference shortly after his death was confirmed, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams revealed authorities had received a tip-off about Stephens' location.
"A little after 11 today, Pennsylvania State Police officers received a tip that the vehicle that we were looking for was in a McDonald's parking lot near Erie, Pa.," he said. "Those officers responded, the vehicle fled from that area, there was a short pursuit in which the vehicle was stopped, and as the officers approached he took his own life."
It was not, he added, the way law enforcement officials wanted the manhunt to conclude. "We would have preferred that it had not ended his way," he said. "This started with one tragedy and ended with another person taking their own life. We would have liked to have talked to him and find out why this happened."
A manhunt had been launched for Stephens, 37, following the seemingly random killing of 74-year-old Robert Godwin in Cleveland, a video of which was uploaded to Stephens' Facebook account. He had not been heard from since speaking to police shortly after the killing. In the video, Stephens asked Godwin to repeat the name of his girlfriend before he shot him dead. Stephens' mother said that he had killed Godwin after becoming mad with his girlfriend.
In a separate video, Stephens boasted that he had killed 13 other people but Williams said there was no evidence to support that claim.
Speaking just a couple of hours before news emerged of his death, U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott said that his car had no GPS tracking capabilities. It was possible, said Elliott, that Stephens was "dead somewhere." He cautioned that he could also already have been outside the United States.
After initially expanding to include four nearby states, the manhunt for Stephens went national Monday evening. Authorities said that they had received close to 400 calls regarding sightings of Stephens, one as far away as Texas.
A reward of $50,000 had been offered for information leading to his arrest.
Pennsylvania authorities reported to CNN Monday that Stephens' cell phone had "pinged" in Erie, but local police appeared to contradict that claim. Williams said following Stephens taking his own life that law enforcement officials had searched the area near where the cell phone signal had been received on several occasions and were in the process of doing so again Tuesday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement thanking police.
"I am incredibly grateful to the Pennsylvania State police for their bravery and vigilance in spotting and pursuing ‘Facebook Live Killer’ Steve Stephens in Erie and acting without hesitation to keep others safe," he said. "On behalf of all Pennsylvanians and Americans, I thank these state troopers, the entire State Police and all law enforcement involved for their heroism in protecting their fellow citizens."
This story has been updated to include information from a police press conference in Cleveland.
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