He was a gentle man with graying hair and a blue-plaid shirt, out for a walk on Easter Sunday in Cleveland.
He carried a white plastic bag that could rattle with cans — a bag he vainly tried to use as a shield when a stranger pulled out a gun on a sunny city sidewalk and ended his life.
But those who knew him say Robert Godwin, 74, was so much more than the victim of a horrific shooting recorded for social media, a seemingly random and senseless act that shook viewers and left a family in agony.
On Monday, suspect Steve Stephens was the subject of a multi-state manhunt. An aggravated murder warrant had been issued for Stephens and police warned residents of Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be on alert. Cleveland police say the suspect posted video on Facebook of a fatal shooting and claimed to have committed “multiple other homicides."
Godwin, affectionately known as "the junk man," was gunned down while scouring the streets for cans, daughter Debbie Godwin, 52, told the Associated Press.
“Not because he needed the money; it was just something he did,” said Godwin, who described her dad as a gentle man. ““We called him the junk man. He’d pick up things off the street and fix them. He picked up bikes and he fixed them.”
Please please please stop retweeting that video and report anyone who has posted it! That is my grandfather show some respect #Cleveland— Ryan A. Godwin (@god_winr) April 16, 2017
Robert Godwin Jr., 48, told The (Cleveland) Plain-Dealer that his father was a retired foundry worker who left behind nine children, 14 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. He said his dad went fishing Saturday, a favorite hobby since retirement.
He said he last saw Godwin on Sunday morning when his father stopped by his house to retrieve some basketball equipment for another son.
"He hugged my wife and me and said 'I'll see you guys next time,'" Godwin Jr. told the paper. "I said 'OK, enjoy your Easter.'"
He said he hadn't been able to bring himself to view the video, which was taken down by Facebook. "I haven't even looked at my cellphone or the news," Godwin said. "I don't really want to see it."
Ryan Godwin, who said he was Godwin's grandson, implored people to stop sharing the graphic video on social media. “Please please please stop retweeting that video and report anyone who has posted it! That is my grandfather show some respect,” he tweeted Sunday.
Fox8News reported that the grieving Godwin family had these words for the suspect: "We forgive you. Please turn yourself in."
Contributing: The Associated Press
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