After spending the weekend fishing, 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. was shot dead on the streets of Cleveland Easter Sunday, a victim of senseless violence for violence’s sake. The murder was captured and uploaded to Facebook [Ed. note: Cleveland.com reports it was not broadcast on Facebook Live as widely reported], his killer Steve Stephens says stops his car, mumbles “found me somebody I’m going to kill, this guy right here, this old dude,” gets out, approaches Godwin, and shoots him in the head.
Godwin’s family has clearly expressed that they do not wish that Facebook video to be what people remember him for, so as such we won’t be linking to it nor will we mention it further. This is Robert Godwin Sr. This is how his family would like you to remember him.
As often happens in these cases, as soon as the news hit, strangers flocked to GoFundMe in droves to set up GoFundMe campaigns because that’s what people do these days. By 11pm on the night of her father’s murder, Robert Godwin’s daughter took to Twitter to warn of phony fundraising pages set up in her father’s name.
Today my father Robert Godwin Sr was murdered in cold blood via FB Live. People have set up GoFundMe accounts fraudulently. Please stop it. pic.twitter.com/lLzWRHBQwN
— MinisteringLove (@Repairerofthebr) April 17, 2017
Godwin’s daughter, Tonya Godwin-Baines, said her family has not created a GoFundMe account for her late father. She also said no one has been authorized to create such account.
Authorities have been notified of at least 35 accounts on the fundraising site that are not connected to the family, Godwin-Baines said.
Robert Godwin was the father of 10 children. His daughter described him as one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet, adding he didn’t deserve to die like this.
Nine campaigns were live within hours of the murder, according to Cleveland19.
One, set up by a complete stranger, has raised over $23k as of press time. Campaign organizer Wesley Scott Alexander wrote:
Earlier today a horrific homicide was live streamed on Facebook in Cleveland. Mr Godwin, in his 70’s, was brutally senselessly murdered. I cannot comprehend this total disregard for human life. Such a sweet old man. I cannot imagine the pain his family is going through right now. I am just a kid from Arizona who unfortunately saw this video on Facebook and wanted to help. Take initiative. I’ll post photos of me delivering the help. I know this won’t bring their loved one back but it’s the least we can do. I hope they find peace.
In a later update, Alexander states that he is “working with GoFundMe to make contact with the family as we speak” and that “GoFundMe will ensure all funds are directly deposited into the victims’ bank account.”
So despite the fact that the family spoke out against authorized campaigns, GoFundMe is “working with” the campaign organizer to get this money they never wanted to the family. That doesn’t change the fact that the person raising money doesn’t have authorization to do so, GoFundMe. How about respect the family’s wishes instead of getting your piece of the tragedy porn.