A phone call. Then a scream. "Your father is dead."
Robert Godwin Sr. was chosen at random by his killer, police say
A phone call. Then a scream on the other end.
That’s how Tammy Godwin found out that her father, Robert Godwin Sr., had been shot to death.
“My mom … called my house phone. When I picked up the phone she was screaming,” Tammy Godwin told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday night. “And she said, ‘Your father is dead.’”
The Godwin family is coming to grips with the cold-blooded slaying, a killing seen by untold numbers of people after his suspected killer posted video of the shooting to Facebook.
Robert Godwin, 74, was killed Sunday while walking down the sidewalk on a Cleveland street.
Steve Stephens, 37, the man suspected of killing Godwin, shot and killed himself Tuesday after a short police pursuit in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams has said Stephens apparently chose Godwin – a former manufacturing worker, self-taught mechanic, father of 10 and grandfather of 14 – at random.
A broken heart
Tammy Godwin said after getting that call she ran down to her mother’s house, just a few doors down, not being able to fully comprehend the news she was just told.
“He took our dad. I can’t believe I’m never going to talk to my father no more,” she said, in tears. “I can’t believe I’m never going to be able to call my father no more. My heart is just broke.”
Tammy Godwin wanted to make sure her father’s killer knew just what was taken from them – a good man who was the rock of his family.
One of Robert Godwin’s sons said he was greatly disturbed by how the killer carried out his awful deed.
“What happened to my father was horrific,” Robby Miller said. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. The man who videotaped my father getting shot stripped him of his dignity. And to post it online for the whole world to see? I’m just angry.”
Miller stressed, though, that despite their hurt and anger, the family wants justice, not vengeance.
“No, I don’t want that man to die, I want him brought to justice,” he said. “One thing I do want to say, is that I forgive (the killer).”
Miller urged the suspect to turn himself in, saying he’d done enough damage.
A cherished father
Other Godwin family members spoke of forgiveness as well, saying they had no animosity toward the suspect.
“Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer,” Godwin’s daughter Tonya Godwin-Baines told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “We want to wrap our arms around him.”
A strong faith in God is helping the family through this ordeal, Godwin-Baines said. That’s something they learned from their father. Godwin taught his children the value of hard work. He taught them how to love God and fear God, and how to forgive, his children said.
“It’s just what our parents taught us,” she said. “My dad would be really proud of us and he would want this from us.”
Another daughter, Debbie Godwin, said that’s what made her father so special.
His children said they want to remember him not as the man killed in a Facebook video, but as the peaceful and kind man who loved his family, who loved to fish and who even did his daughters’ hair.
“They don’t make men like him anymore. He was definitely one in a million,” Debbie Godwin said.