Employees of a Pennsylvania McDonald’s helped end a two-day national manhunt on Tuesday when they recognized murder suspect Steve Stephens, the 37-year-old Cleveland man who authorities say posted a Facebook video on Sunday showing him shooting a man, multiple outlets report.
At around 11 a.m., Stephens pulled into a McDonald’s in Erie County, Pennsylvania, and ordered a 20-piece chicken nuggets and bucket of fries, GoErie.com reports.
Thomas DuCharme Jr., the Erie McDonald’s owner and operator, told GoErie.com that the drive-through attendant recognized Stephens and immediately called state police.
That call led to a police pursuit which soon ended with Stephens killing himself, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.
After a few minutes, Stephens drove off without the rest of his food.
“I am pretty sure he figured out that we were on to him,” DuCharme, the owner, told GoErie.com. “He didn’t want to wait for his fries.”
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Stephens’ vehicle was located by state police shortly after the call — triggering a chase. Thirty minutes later, state police announced he had killed himself.
It is unclear where Stephens had been since Easter Sunday, when he allegedly approached 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. and shot him at point-blank range, killing him. Police claim that, while attacking him, Stephens said in the video that his girlfriend drove him to commit the crime.
Stephens then posted a video of the slaying to Facebook.
Authorities don’t believe that Stephens attacked anyone else since shooting Godwin.
On Monday, Godwin’s family addressed Stephens in a video they uploaded to Facebook.
“Each of us forgives the killer, the murderer,” Godwin’s daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines, told local TV station FOX 8. “We want to wrap our arms around him.”
“I want him to know that God loves him,” Godwin-Baines continued. “We love him. Yes, we’re hurt. But we have to forgive him, because if we don’t forgive him, the Bible says your Heavenly Father won’t forgive you.”
Added Godwin’s tearful son, Robert Godwin Jr.: “Steve, I forgive you. I’m not happy what you did but I forgive you.
Despite Stephen’s death, authorities say that they are continuing to investigate.
“This started with one tragedy and ended with someone taking his life,” they said. “We may never know why. It’s a tragedy.”
• With CHAR ADAMS and STEVE HELLING