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McDonald's workers tipped police about Facebook killer

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Officials are shown at the scene of the car used by Cleveland Facebook murder suspect Steve Stephens. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Keasha Qualls)

The man who randomly gunned down a Cleveland retiree and posted video of the crime on Facebook killed himself Tuesday during a police chase in Pennsylvania that began when a McDonald's employee recognized him at a drive-thru.

Pennsylvania State Police said Steve Stephens was spotted Tuesday morning in Erie County, in the state's northwest corner. The McDonald's is about five miles east of where state police stopped Stephens.

Thomas DuCharme Jr., owner and operator of the McDonald's, said the attendant thought she recognized Stephens. DuCharme said the attendant tried to stall Stephens by making him wait for his fries so she could call state police. DuCharme said Stephens might have realized the attendant was trying to stall him because he drove off with his nuggets and without his fries or change.

Acting on a tip from the McDonald's, Pennsylvania State Police spotted Stephens leaving the restaurant in Erie and went after him, bumping his car to try to get it to stop, authorities said. He shot himself in the head as the car spun out of control, police said.

SEE ALSO: Who is Steve Stephens
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Steve Stephens is suspected of fatally shooting 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr.



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

Stephens posted a video of himself killing Robert Godwin Sr., 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.

Police would not speculate on what was behind the killing, but videos Stephens posted showed him talking about losing everything he had to gambling and trouble with his girlfriend.

Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago despite holding down a job as a counselor helping young people develop job skills and find employment. The behavioral health agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome.

In one video posted on Facebook, Stephens said that he gambled away everything and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry but did not, without saying why.

In the video of the shooting, Stephens told Godwin the name of his girlfriend and said, "She's the reason that this is about to happen to you." Godwin did not seem to recognize the name.

The woman Stephens spoke of, Joy Lane, said in a text message to CBS that "we had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened."

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.

Cleveland police recently released 911 calls of the shooting death.

In the call, you hear a woman shaken up after hearing the gunshot and finding Godwin's body.
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Cleveland police release 911 calls following Facebook killing of 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr.



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 on Monday that his cellphone was last tracked Sunday afternoon in Erie, Pennsylvania, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Cleveland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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