Steve Stephens, 37, went on the run after uploading a Facebook video of the moment he shot dead Robert Godwin Sr, 74
THE gunman who filmed himself shooting a 74-year-old man dead in cold blood was a “slimy” local loser who used a pet python to try and lure women, neighbours say.
Cops are offering a £40,000 reward for Facebook Live killer Steve Stephens as they admit they have no clue where the gunman is.
A “nationwide” hunt is underway for Stevens, who went on the run after uploading a Facebook video of the moment he shot dead Robert Godwin Sr, 74, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Next-door-neighbour Alexis Lee told the MailOnline that Stephens had a bizarre “party trick” as a teenager.
He bought a python and would approach women with the slithering pet around his neck to try and win their affections.
She said: “There was nothing attractive about him. He did have a nice personality though.
“He would tell the kids ‘Stay out of trouble, go to school and don’t be knuckle heads’.
“But he always seemed a bit lost and I’m not surprised that he’s upset about his girlfriend and blaming her for what he’s done.”
The 34-year-old mum painted Stephens as a desperate figure at the gambling tables.
She said: “I saw him at the casino a couple of times and he would remind me that he always had a crush on me.
“One he asked me to sit next to him at the tables saying ‘Be my queen… be my lucky charm’. But I wasn’t interested. I just went home.”
Officers are now searching Fairmont Park in Philadelphia after receiving a number of reports Stephens is in the area.
Five US states are now in lockdown as cops search for the killer who claimed he had slaughtered 14 others and vowed he would “not stop killing” until he was caught.
Detectives admitted today they tried to convince Stephens to hand himself in when they spoke to him over the phone shortly after the deadly attack at 2pm on Sunday.
In a press conference, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said: “Earlier we did have direct contact.
“We talked to him via cell phone and tried to convince him to turn himself in.”
He said police and the FBI are appealing for help to trace the “armed and dangerous” killer who has “deep, deep issues”.
Chief Williams said Stephens’ last known location was the murder scene on East 93rd street in Glenville, Cleveland.
He said: “As far as we know right now, we don’t know where he’s at. The last location we had him at was the homicide.”
“We’re still asking Steve to turn himself in, but if he doesn’t, we’re going to find him.”
Steve Anthony, special agent in charge of Cleveland’s FBI office, said Stephens could be almost anywhere now.
“He could be in a lot of places. He could be nearby, he could be far away and anywhere in between,” Mr Anthony said.
Cleveland Police confirmed the fatal shooting broadcast on Facebook was real, but said there were no other victims linked to the “random” attack.
Stephens is not believed to have a criminal record, but cops said he had a number of traffic violations.
The children’s mental health worker is believed to have “snapped” after the break-down of his three-year relationship with his girlfriend, Joy Lane.
In the graphic video of the attack, Stephens can be seen approaching Mr Godwin in the street, saying: “Found me somebody I’m about to kill… this old dude.”
He then asked the elderly grandad to say his ex-girlfriend’s name to the camera, before adding: “She’s the reason this is about to happen to you.”
Stephens filmed himself pointing and shooting his gun at the man who fell to the ground, with blood pouring from his face down onto the pavement.
In a series of Facebook posts, Stephens claimed he had killed a total of 15 people in what he called an “Easter day slaughter”.
He told someone over the phone that he “just snapped” and had a lot of “built-up anger and frustration”.
Stephens then goaded police, saying “I’ll keep killing until they catch me” before adding: “I shamed myself”.
He left chilling Facebook rants blaming debt and the break up of his relationship as a trigger for the murder.
Stephens with Joy Lane, believed to be his ex-partner, on whom he appears to blame the shooting
During the broadcast, Stephens wrote on Facebook he wouldn’t stop killing until his mum and Joy Lane – believed to be his ex-partner – called him.
His mum Maggie Green told CNN her son said he was “mad with his girlfriend” when they spoke on Sunday.
She said: “That’s why he is shooting people and he won’t stop until his mother or girlfriend tell him to stop.”
Ms Green said her son told her it was going to be the “last time” they were going to see each other.
“If you see me again, it’ll be a miracle,” he said, according to Ms Green.
Stephens and his girlfriend had recently split after three years, according to reports.
Ms Lane has since revealed she is “safe” and “praying” for Mr Godwin’s family.
The killer’s ex-girlfriend wrote on Facebook: “I am safe and with the police. I am Not okay… this is a lot.
“I can’t believe this is happening. I am very sad for everyone involved. I am praying for them and I am praying for Steve. He needs help.”
She told CBS News in a text message: “We had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.
“My heart & prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s). Steve really is a nice guy…he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children. This is a very difficult time for me and my family.”
She is believed to be an air force veteran.
Police have launched a huge manhunt for the killer and warned residents in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be on alert because he may have crossed state lines.
It is feared he could now be in Pennsylvania, where police in Erie told media the suspect’s mobile phone “pinged” off a tower there just before 10pm.
Police believe the shooting was a “random attack” because Stephens and Godwin did not know each other.
“From what we can tell now, it’s just a random person that he picked out. We don’t know why,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said.
“I feel like my heart is going to stop,” his daughter told reporters.
Another woman believed to be Mr Godwin’s granddaughter said it was the second anniversary of her father’s death.
She wrote on Twitter: “All i ask is why.”
Easter day slaughter: what we know so far
- Steve Stephens shot Robert Godwin, 74, dead and shared the video of the murder on Facebook
- Stephens claims to have killed between 12 and 15 others, but police have not confirmed this or found any bodies
- Cops and the FBI are hunting the suspect and have said ‘we need Steve to turn himself in’
- Stephens is thought to be driving a white Ford SUV and is wearing a blue and black striped polo shirt
- Stephens left posts on Facebook describing crippling gambling debts and a break-up with his partner Joy Lane before saying ‘he just snapped’
- In one Facebook video he says he will not stop killing until Joy or his mum call him
- Stephens’ mum urged the 37-year-old to turn himself in and says he ‘never had any serious issues’
- Hospitals do not have any reports of more shooting victims
- Robert Godwin’s children paid an emotional tribute to their dad, who they described as a ‘good man’
Mr Godwin’s son, Robert Godwin Jr, told Cleveland.com he cannot bring himself to watch the video – which was on Facebook for three hours.
“I haven’t watched the video. I haven’t even looked at my cellphone or the news,” Mr Godwin said. “I don’t really want to see it.”
He said his father, a retired factory worker, often picked up aluminium cans if he saw them on the ground.
The son said he believed his dad was looking for discarded cans on Sunday when Stephens approached him.
Celebrities including singer Nicki Minaj have paid tribute to Mr Godwin on social media.
Nicki posted a video clip of Mr Godwin’s family after they spoke to reporters at a press conference.
She wrote: “I just watched this man shoot & kill their elderly father in cold blood live on social media. It’s by far one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen.”
Stephens is understood to have worked as a children’s mental health case worker at the Beech Brook facility.
In a statement, they said: “We are shocked and horrified and we don’t know anything more about it.
“We hope and pray that he is arrested as soon as possible and we hope and pray for a resolution quickly.”
In one Facebook post, Stephens tagged co-workers asking them to let his boss know he wouldn’t be in work tomorrow, writing “I’m sorry team but I’m to far gone [sic]” and adding “I’m the #goodguy”.
He also wrote that the last year his life had been f***** up, and he had lost everything through gambling at the Cleveland Jack casino.
Beech Brook confirmed the facility would be closed today as a “precaution” to protect its staff.
Stephens is understood to have attended an Easter Sunday church service before carrying out the attack, according to Fox.
Sun Online has seen the graphic and upsetting video of the deadly attack – which was on Facebook for three hours before Stephens’ profile was taken down – but has chosen not to show it in full.
The highly-distressing footage starts with a man driving while filming heard saying: “Found me somebody I’m about to kill… this old dude.”
He then stops the car and approaches the elderly man in the street, saying: “Can you do me a favour?”
He then asks the elderly man to say a name, saying: “She’s the reason this is about to happen to you.”
The shooter then asks the man how old he is, before pointing his gun at the man who holds his hands up in fear.
He then pulls the trigger and the elderly man falls to the ground, with blood pouring from his face down the pavement.
Cops said the suspect was last seen near Case Western Reserve University and warned people to stay away from the campus.
Cleveland State University also warned people to take shelter as police hunt for Stephens.
There are unconfirmed reports on Facebook of shots being fired elsewhere in the city.
On Twitter, one user wrote: “My sister just called to tell me that police are at my grandma’s house because someone just shot at her and my cousins.”
Cops said Stephens is 6ft 1inch tall and has a bald head and a full beard.
He was wearing a dark-striped polo shirt at the time of the shooting and was driving a new white Ford Fusion SUV.
Local hospitals have reportedly been put on standby “to receive more victims”.
After the shooting, the man’s shadow is shown heading back to the car, with a glimpse of his stripy T-shirt and some kind of ID card hanging around his neck.
He then climbs back into his car to continue driving – mumbling something inaudible before the video ends.
Cleveland Police said in a statement they “are investigating a homicide at 635 East 93rd Street”.
It was initially reported that the killing was streamed on Facebook Live.
But Facebook has since confirmed that Stephens shared the video online, but did not stream it.
Facebook also condemned the post, saying: “This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook.
“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.”