CLEVELAND - Police in Cleveland were searching for a homicide suspect who they said broadcast a killing on Facebook Live and claimed to have committed “multiple other homicides” that authorities had yet to verify.
The suspect was identified as Steve Stephens, a 6-foot 1-inch African-American man who said on Facebook that he had committed an "Easter day slaughter." Police said they couldn't identify other homicide victims.
Stephens was reported to be driving a light-colored SUV. Police said he weighs 244 pounds, has a full beard and was considered armed and dangerous. He was last seen wearing a dark blue and gray or black striped polo shirt.
Authorities on Sunday said a series of posts on Stephens' Facebook page complained that he had "lost everything" to gambling, NBC News reported. Stephens allegedly wrote: "I killed 12 people today," and said he wouldn't stop until he could speak to his mother and a second woman.
Later, the user posted: "I killed 15 today because of [the second woman]," but police said no other victims had been found. The video of the killing remained on Facebook for nearly three hours before it was taken down and Stephens' page deactivated, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.
Stephens, a case manager with Beech Brook, a children's behavioral health agency, had recently been working with young adults, a Beech Brook official told BuzzFeed News.
A Facebook spokesperson called the shooting "a horrific crime," adding, "We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.”
Several recent shootings have played out live on the online platform, including the police killing last July of Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Also last July, three people were injured in a shooting captured on Facebook Live in Norfolk, Va. The men were sitting in a car listening to music when the shooting took place. The phone streaming the shooting fell to the floor of the car and continued recording for about two hours as police arrived and bystanders offered aid.