′Facebook killer′ commits suicide on the run | News | DW | 18.04.2017
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'Facebook killer' commits suicide on the run

Pennsylvania State Police have announced that the suspect in the killing of a senior citizen from Cleveland has shot and killed himself. Steve Stephens had posted a video of the crime on Facebook.

Watch video 00:47

Man captures murder on Facebook

Authorities said that 37-year-old Steve Stephens shot and killed himself after a "brief pursuit," during which they had tried to pull him over.

Stephens was accused of shooting 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. in Cleveland on Sunday and uploading a video of the murder to Facebook.

The crime prompted a manhunt across the US after the suspect shared another video on the social network, saying he would kill again.

In a second video, the suspect was seen boasting about having committed a number of further murders: "I killed 13, so I'm working on 14 as we speak," Stephens said in that video, prompting authorities to widen the manhunt to beyond the state limits of Ohio.

Police have not yet verified whether Stephens had killed others.

Trouble in private life

Police said the motive for the shooting was likely linked to personal relationship problems. Stephens is seen in the footage of the murder telling Godwin a woman's name and saying, "She's the reason that this is about to happen to you."

Godwin did not seem to recognize the woman's name. But Stephens apparently told his mother on the phone that he had killed the man because he was "mad with his girlfriend."

Social media giant under fire

Facebook meanwhile has launched a major review of how it handles violent videos after the incident. The video of Godwin's murder had remained on Facebook for more than two hours. The social network had been criticized for not taking the video down faster.

Facebook Nutzer Symbolbild (picture-alliance/dpa/O. Berg)

People have increasingly been voicing criticism at Facebook for not filtering violent video content

"We disabled the suspect's account within 23 minutes of receiving the first report about the murder video, and two hours after receiving a report of any kind. But we know we need to do better," the company said in a statement.

Speaking at Facebook's annual conference for software developers, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg meanwhile pledged that the company would do "all it can to prevent tragedies like this from happening."

Facebook has come under fire with other instances of violence before: in March 2017, a 15-year-old girl was raped by multiple participants in Chicago, as the attack was streamed on Facebook Live. In January 2017, three men were arrested in relation to a similar incident involving the live-streamed rape of a woman in Sweden.

Facebook has also inadvertently hosted videos showing the torture of a young man with disabilities in Chicago, the musings of a serial killer being chased by police, child abuse and, now, murder.

ss/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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