Family Of Facebook Shooting Victim Say They Forgive Killer, And Urge Him To Surrender
"I don't want that man to die," Robby Miller, the son of Robert Godwin Sr., said of his father's killer. "I want him to be brought to justice."
Family members of a man killed in a random shooting broadcast on Facebook Sunday are calling on the shooter to turn himself into police, as the nationwide manhunt for the suspect stretches into its third day.
In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon Monday night, four relatives of the victim, Robert Godwin Sr., said they don't want the suspect, Steve Stephens, to die, but to surrender. They also said that they forgive him.
"No, I don't want that man to die," Godwin's son, Robby Miller, said of his father's killer. "All I want to see is him brought to justice. I want my family to have closure.
"It's a hole in my heart right now, but one thing I want to say is that I forgive him."
On Sunday, Stephens uploaded a video to Facebook of him apparently shooting the 74-year-old Godwin in what police said appears to be a random killing. Stephens has been missing since the shooting, despite a multistate search by national, state, and local law enforcement.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said authorities have received approximately 400 tips nationwide about the case.
Williams added that Stevens' car was not equipped with a tracking system, which investigators typically use to pinpoint suspects' locations.
He also said that the police had a good relationship with social media companies as they investigated the shooting.
"Facebook was responsive," he said, adding that "they did what was in their protocols."
In the CNN interview, Miller and three other relatives — Godwin's former wife, Dorothy Crumpton, and his daughters, Tammy Godwin and Naujia Godwin — described the victim as a good man and father. They also spoke to the unusual, and disturbing, experience of having to watch his death broadcast online.
"At first I was angry," said Naujia Godwin, holding back tears. "Why did they do that to my dad? Why would you put it online? I couldn't believe it was my dad."
Facebook said on Monday that the video of Godwin's death was online for nearly two hours before it was removed in response to reports from users. Godwin's family members have asked people not to repost the video on social media.
The family members also talked about what they hoped would happen to Stephens.
"I don't want to him to take his life. I don't want the police to have to take his life," said Crumpton. "I want him to give himself up, because at the end of the day Jesus died for his sins too, just like he died for mine."
Earlier in the day, mourners gathered in Cleveland to hold a vigil for Godwin. Balloons, flags, and candles were displayed along a fence, and family members who attended could be heard sobbing.