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How a ‘concerned citizen’ tip ended the Facebook murder suspect manhunt

ERIE, Pa. -- Pennsylvania State Police thanked the person who tipped them off that Facebook murder suspect Steve Stephens was in Erie on Tuesday.

At a press conference, police referred to the person as a "concerned citizen," and would not confirm if it was a McDonald's employee. They also could not say if the person would be eligible for the $50,000 reward.

According to WICU, an employee at a McDonald's restaurant believed she recognized Stephens as he came through the drive-thru and alerted the supervisor and owner.

Owner Thomas DuCharme, Jr. said he went to the drive-thru window and was trying to stall the suspect; at the same time, an employee called Pennsylvania State Police. Stephens then drove away.

DuCharme released the following statement to FOX 8 Tuesday evening:

“I’m thankful for the quick actions of my crew members to identify the suspect and commend the authorities for their efforts in informing the public of this individual. The entire McDonald’s family’s thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this tragic situation.”

Joe Barnes was at that McDonald's restaurant on Buffalo when he spotted a white Ford Fusion in the parking lot. With many rumored sightings, Barnes thought nothing of it. He told us he had no idea just a short time later, Stephens would be dead.

State police said Stevens killed himself after a brief chase.

Troopers were on alert for Stevens because police said they were aware he was a gambler and may be near the casino. They are investigating how long he was in Erie.

At an earlier press conference in Cleveland after the news broke, Police Chief Calvin Williams said that at just after 11 a.m., Pennsylvania State Police received a tip that Stephens' vehicle was seen in a McDonald's parking lot near Erie, Pa.

The 37-year-old was wanted after police said he killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr. in Cleveland on Sunday, then posted video of the horrific crime to Facebook.

**Continuing coverage, here**

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:40 pm

Concerned citizen spotted Stephens at McDonald’s; troopers located vehicle and initiated a pursuit.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:41 pm

PA State Police says Stephens used a handgun to take his own life; they cannot determine how long Stephens had been in the Erie area

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:41 pm

Thanks public for assistance; they were “instrumental” in bringing this to a conclusion. 

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:42 pm

Because he was a gambler, authorities thought he might have been close to the casino.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:42 pm

Authorities say a “concerned citizen” tipped off authorities. 

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:43 pm

“He’s been somewhere over the last couple days; we don’t know where.”

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:45 pm

The investigation on where Stephens was has just begun, authorities said.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:45 pm

PA State Police: We have search warrants for the contents of the vehicle.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:46 pm

PA State Police: We knew he was wanted for homicide in Cleveland, trooper did a successful pit maneuver ending this investigation.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:48 pm

“We don’t believe he had any accomplices.”

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:48 pm

Without the public, we would be nowhere, authorities said.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:49 pm

Police thank tipster who called in the tip about Stephens.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:50 pm

PA State Police will do their own investigation and work with Cleveland police as well.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:51 pm

“A trooper saw him pull out a gun and kill himself,” PA State Police said.

Kara Sutyak April 18, 20173:52 pm

They have no knowledge of a ping.