The fugitive suspected of gunning down a random grandfather in Cleveland Sunday worked almost 10 years at a northeast Ohio mental health agency and had no prior criminal record.
Steve Stephens, 37, is the subject of a five-state manhunt after he filmed himself shooting 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. — an apparent stranger he’d happened upon — and uploaded the bloodshed to Facebook.
Stephens later blamed his girlfriend for the slaying in a Facebook Live video, and issued a claim still unverified by police that he had killed 13 people.
Police on Monday said Stephens was armed and dangerous and “could be in a lot of places.” He had no criminal record and only traffic violations prior to Sunday, authorities said.
Stephens had worked since 2008 at the Beech Brook behavioral health agency, which administers programs on foster care and adoption services, outpatient counseling, mentoring and school-based mental health services, according to the agency.
He started at the organization as a youth mentor; two years ago, he became a vocational specialist for the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team, which offers mental health treatment for teens and young adults.
“We were shocked and horrified yesterday to learn about the situation involving the threats by Steve Stephens and the tragic shooting of Mr. Godwin,” the facility said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to his family during this time of grief.”
The agency — which will serve more than 18,000 kids and families over the year, according to its website — closed its offices Monday in light of the shooting.
The murder suspect graduated from the now-defunct Myers College business school in 2002, fellow alum Dawn Arrington told Cleveland.com. She remembered him as “slightly awkward” and “always laughing and joking.”
He was reportedly a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which in a statement Sunday offered “sincere and heartfelt prayers and condolences of comfort to the families impacted by the recent shooting in Cleveland, Ohio.”
Stephens is the eldest of three children. His mother, Maggie Green, said he had stopped by her home on Saturday with a cryptic message.
“He said this (was) the last time I was going to see him,” Green said, quoting her son, “If you see me again, it’ll be a miracle.”
In a short phone call Sunday, Green told CNN, Stephens told her he was “mad with his girlfriend” and “shooting people” as a result.
Green could not be reached for comment Monday.
Joy Lane, the girlfriend whose name Stephens allegedly invoked on video before pulling the trigger on Godwin, elaborated on their relationship in a text message.
“We had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened. My heart & prayers goes out to the family members of the victim(s),” Lane wrote to CBS News.
“Steve really is a nice guy… he is generous with everyone he knows. He was kind and loving to me and my children. This is a very difficult time for me and my family Please respect our privacy at this time.”
Tonya Godwin-Baines, one of Godwin’s 10 children, issued a public plea for Stephens to turn himself in.
“To the young man who murdered my daddy, I ask that you please surrender,” she told Cleveland’s FOX 8 News. “I forgive you, and love you but most importantly, God loves you. God can heal your mind and save your soul. PLEASE!”