CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two daughters of the elderly man who was randomly shot to death by a Cleveland social worker who says he “snapped” in a breaking point over the difficulties in his life told reporters on Monday that their heart is hurting as they feel like a part of themselves died with their father.
Tonya Godwin-Baines remembered her father, Robert Godwin, 74, as a kind and generous man, and a man who taught his children to walk in the ways of the Lord. Godwin had 10 children and 14 grandchildren.
“The thing I would take away most from our father is that he taught us about God: how to fear God, how to love God and how to forgive,” she told CNN.
“He was the type of person that if a neighbor needed to go to the grocery store, he would take them. If you needed something, that’s just how my daddy was,” sister Debbie Godwin also told ABC News. “He didn’t deserve to be picked out randomly, and then to add insult to injury, you tape it while my father is begging for his life.”
Godwin said she didn’t watch the video of her father being shot as she did not want to have that memory ingrained in her mind. However, Godwin-Baines saw the footage and became emotional as she recalled seeing the fear in her father’s eyes moments before he lost his life.
“[I]t forever will be in my mind because I saw the fear in my father’s eyes. He was so afraid,” she lamented.
“I can’t believe I’m never going to talk to my father no more,” Godwin-Baines said. “I can’t believe I’m never going to be able to call my father no more. My heart is just broke.”
But despite their pain, the women say that they have chosen to forgive Steve Stephens, the man who shot their father at random on Sunday.
“I truly can say I don’t even feel any animosity against the guy that killed my father,” Godwin outlined. “I want him to get help. He needed that before this happened…”
However, on Tuesday morning, police located Stephens in Erie, Pennsylvania—approximately 100 miles northeast of Cleveland—during a random traffic stop. Following a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.
“We’re grateful this ended,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said during a press conference. “We would have preferred it not ended this way. There are a lot of questions for the family and the city in general that they would have had for Steve as to why this transpired.”
As previously reported, Stephens said in one of his videos uploaded to Facebook on Sunday that he was upset about problems with his girlfriend, Joy Lane, which drove him to gambling and financial ruin. He said he felt that other people didn’t care about what he was going through or that he felt suicidal.
“[P]eople would come to me with their problems. I would deal with my problems everyday,” Stephens vented. “But when it comes to my problems, nobody gives a [expletive].”