Twenty-four hours after accused Facebook killer Steve Stephens shot and killed himself, WKYC's Tiffany Tarpley sat down with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams to discuss the city's handling of the incident.
Stephens was accused of shooting and killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr. on Cleveland's E. 93rd Street on Easter Sunday. Stephens uploaded video of the killing to his Facebook page and went live on Facebook to confess to the murder.
A two-day search followed and ended when Stephens shot and killed himself in his car in Erie, Pennsylvania after a McDonald's employee recognized him and called police.
Now, the city of Cleveland can breathe easier, knowing the accused killer's whereabouts are no longer in question. The community also must heal, after many of its members viewed the horrific slaying of Godwin on social media.
Though the city is working to move on from the incident, which made national headlines, Jackson noted that the end of the search for Stephens doesn't mark the end of the underlying issues that led to the killing in the first place.
"There's a lot of them," Jackson said of the underlying issues that result in violence. "There's socio-economic issues, issues around education, jobs, poverty, all those things. [It's ] the availability of guns in the hands of people who should not have them, including young people, children. [It's] the whole culture that is built around violence as a legitimate response to conflict. [It's] those kinds of things."
Williams and Jackson both expressed a sense of relief knowing the search for Stephens is over, but Williams also acknowledged the ongoing battle against violence and crime the city faces.
As an example, Jackson brought up the shooting deaths of Michael and Trina Kuznik, the owners of the Mr. Cars, Inc. dealership who were found dead at the business last Friday. Their killer has not been found.
"It does not mean that things are over with," Jackson said. "It's just this particular thing is over with for now."
Williams also discussed the role social media plays in tragedies overall, not just in the death of Godwin.
"It's a shame that we have to do that," Williams said. "People should be a lot more selective in the things they post on social media, and the people who have issues should not air them on social media. There are ways to get help."
Despite some criticism from citizens that the city should have been placed on lockdown amid fears that Stephens remained in the area following the shooting, Jackson emphasized his faith in Cleveland Police.
"If we panic, we lose," he said. "Police are professional. They know what they're doing. They deal with these kind of things, even not as high-profile because they weren't put on social media, but they deal with these kind of things every day."
Williams said there was never a point during the search for Stephens in which he doubted they'd find him.
"You have to play it out," Williams explained. "There are a handful of scenarios that can happen in an incident like this, and we were working all of those scenarios. This was one of the scenarios -- that he's hiding someplace, eventually he's going to have to come out, and somebody's going to spot him. ...We kind of stick with our trade craft."
Williams also noted that, though the search for Stephens is over, the investigation is not. Cleveland and Erie police are still determining where Stephens went directly after the shooting, and what he's been up to the past two days.
"Now the process starts to backtrack, from McDonald's to any locations near there we think he may have hid," Williams said.
Watch the full interview in the video player above.
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