The family of Robert Godwin Sr., the 74-year-old Cleveland man whose apparently random killing was videotaped and posted to Facebook, say they wish the killer had been brought in alive instead of committing suicide.
The suspect, Steve Stephens, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Erie, Pa., following a brief police pursuit on Tuesday morning, officials said.
“I’m not happy he’s dead at all,” Debbie Godwin, a daughter of the victim, told the Associated Press. “If you did it, you have to face your crime.”
Stephens, 37, was located by Pennsylvania State Police in Erie County after his vehicle was spotted at a McDonald’s parking lot. The vehicle fled, stopped, and as the officers approached, Stephens shot and killed himself, police said.
“This started with one tragedy and ended with another person taking their own life,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a press conference. “We would like to have brought Steven peacefully and really talk to him to find out why this happened.”
On Sunday, the suspect shot and killed the elder Goodwin on a Cleveland-area sidewalk. He then posted the shocking video to Facebook, triggering a widespread manhunt.
On Monday night, other grieving family members said they had already forgiven Stephens and hoped he would turn himself in.
“I don’t want that man to die,” Godwin’s son Robby Miller told CNN. “I want him to be brought to justice.”
“Whatever law enforcement or whoever the higher-ups decide to do, that’s out of my hands,” Miller continued. At the end of the day, that’s up to God, you know? You know, ‘Vengeance is mine, said the Lord.’ Vengeance is his. It doesn’t belong to us to do that.”
He added: “So, if you out there, if you’re listening, turn yourself in. You’ve done enough damage. Just turn yourself in.”
“We don’t hate you, but you took something from us,” Godwin’s daughter Tammy Godwin said. “And we still don’t hate you.”
Dorothy Crumpton, Godwin’s ex-wife, said his death hit her hard.
“It’s hurting me very bad because that was a true friend,” Crumpton said.
Yet she too didn’t want Stephens to die.
“I don’t want him to take his life,” Crumpton said. “I don’t want the police to take his life. I want him to give himself up.”
But not all of Godwin’s family members were so forgiving.
His daughter Brenda Haymon told CNN that she learned of Stephens’ suicide while she was planning her father’s funeral.
“All I can say is that I wish he had gone down in a hail of 100 bullets,” Haymon said. “I wish it had gone down like that instead of him shooting himself.”
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