The 74-year-old Cleveland grandfather who police say was killed by a man looking for a random victim, who then posted the shooting on Facebook, had earlier been with his children for an Easter Sunday dinner when he was shot to death.
Family members of Robert Godwin Sr., were shocked to disbelief about the slaying, for which police have not announced a motive, but the suspect, Steve Stephens, said in a later post that it had to do with his girlfriend. His son, Robert Sr., told reporters through tears, “it’s not real.”
“He’s a good guy,” he said. “He would give you the shirt off his back…I’m telling the truth, this man here was a good man.”
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Godwin was a retired foundry worker who had nine children, 14 grandchildren and a host of great-grandchildren. He enjoyed fishing, an activity he had just done on Saturday, and collected aluminum cans, which he would place in a plastic bag when he found them. In the video of the shooting, a man police identified as Steve Stephens walked up to him and asked him to say the name “Joy Lane” before pointing a firearm at him. Godwin held the plastic bag up in his own defense saying he didn’t know any such person, before Stephens pulled the trigger.
Godwin Jr., said he had last seen his father when he came by the house to pick up some basketball equipment for another son.”He hugged my wife and me and said ‘I’ll see you guys next time,’ ” Godwin Jr. said. “I said ‘OK, enjoy your Easter.’ ”
A few hours later, he got a call about the slaying and went to the scene of the shooting, but an ambulance had already taken the body away. “When the detective walked up, she didn’t have to open her mouth because her vest said ‘homicide,’ ” he said.
His daughter, Debbie Godwin fondly remembered her father as someone who loved his family. “All my life, all I’ve ever known for my dad to be a provider,” said Debbie Godwin, who also said she would not watch the video. She described him as “a great man, a sweet man.”
Stephens is still at large and police have launched a manhunt that stretches into five states to catch him. He claimed to have murdered others, but police have uncovered no evidence linking any other homicide to him. Police did search empty homes on Cleveland’s east side just in case.
The woman he referred to when he shot Godwin has been placed in police protective custody and is said to be cooperating with authorities.