INTERVIEW: Independent Journalist Tracking Cleveland Killer: The Police Labeled Me A ‘Vigilante’
An independent journalist was labeled a “vigilante” and tracked down by the Cleveland Police Department as he broadcast live while out looking for the man who livestreamed himself committing an “Easter Day Slaughter” on Facebook.
The suspect, Steve Stephens had shot and killed Robert Godwin Sr., 74, a stranger, in a livestream on Facebook. He also used the “live” feature to broadcast himself confessing to at least a dozen other murders.
Hearing that the man was still at large, iCitizenNews journalist Brian Richmond armed himself, set up his own livestream, and went out to search for the killer. He was live for nearly an hour and a half with over 30,000 viewers watching in real time. The footage quickly went viral, and was viewed more than 300,000 times in just a few hours.
When asked by Big League Politics what he planned to do if he found Stephens, Richmond stated that he “didn’t think that through,” and that he “was looking for the ‘end game’ between the suspect and the police.” He added that he would have only engaged the suspect in self defense.
Richmond’s stream primarily consisted of him chasing police helicopters and leads from friends to attempt to determine where the suspect may be.
Soon, Richmond himself was pulled over by the police. They asked if he had a gun on him and he informed the officer that he did. He was then asked to step out of his vehicle.
“You’re part of the press? Do you have your credentials on you?” the officer can be heard asking before they move too far from the vehicle for the conversation to be picked up.
After they moved away from the vehicle, ten police officers in five cruisers arrived at the scene, Richmond told Big League.
“They said the Los Angeles Police Department called them. They had told the Cleveland Police that I was a ‘Vigilante,’” Richmond said.
Despite being unable to locate the man who was seemingly on a killing spree, they tracked down the journalist with ease.
LAPD & CLEVELAND police just shut down MEDIA and labelled @B_Rich33NO as a "Vigilante" while #ClevelandShooter still at large
— LΞIGH (@LeighStewy) April 16, 2017
Richmond was professional, and prepared, however.
“I had press placards in my windows so he knew, right at first he said ‘Oh you’re press,’” Richmond said. “After checking my CCW, and me informing them that I know the Cleveland Police Union President, they were cool with me.”
The officers cleared his weapon and ordered him to “cease his actions” and “leave the active area,” which Richmond promptly complied with.
Richmond told Big League that he was surprised that there was “not a single MRAP, armored car, officer in tactical gear,” with an obvious presence in the city, despite the serious nature of the threat. He added that it “did not feel like they was looking for an armed and dangerous man.”
Stephens remained at large on Sunday evening, after finding the random elderly man and killing him execution style.
“Found me somebody I’m going to kill, this old dude right here,” Stephens said in his video stream before exiting his vehicle and approaching Godwin. “This old dude.”
Stephens approached Godwin at approximately 2 p.m. and asked him to say his ex girlfriend’s name, Joy Lane, which the septuagenarian did.
“She’s the reason all this is about to happen to you,” Stephens asserted, before asking the man his age.
The man attempted to shield himself, but was shot once in the head.
As Stephens broadcast the blood draining from the man’s body, he addressed his ex girlfriend and asserted that this was all happening because “you.”
“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). Steve really is a nice guy…he is generous with everyone he knows,” Lane said in a statement to CBS News. “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.”
Lane is currently in protective custody.
Cleveland Police confirmed the shooting was legitimate. His Facebook page has since been removed.
“Currently there are no other victims that we know of,” Police Chief Calvin Williams said in a statement. “So far there are no more victims that we know that are tied to Steve and this incident. But we are still encouraging people that if you have information on Steve’s whereabouts or any other victims that may be out there, to definitely give us a call. Just call 911.”
Stephens has claimed that the bodies of the rest of his victims are located inside an abandoned house, but police have not confirmed any other murders.
#FacebookLive Killer explains on phone why he doing all this claims 13-15 killing Police confirm 1 man shot by #SteveStephens #Cleveland pic.twitter.com/RT0C4swZoj
— ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? (@BleedsBlueNGold) April 16, 2017
In one of several deranged videos, the killer vowed to keep committing murders until he is stopped by the police. He is calling his killing spree the “Easter Day Slaughter.”
“I just killed 13 motherf–kers man. That’s what I did, I killed 13 people and I’m about to keep killing until they catch me. F–k it,” Stephens livestreamed himself telling a man on the phone.
It has now become a multi state man hunt, with law enforcement urging residents of Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, and Michigan to be on alert.