Minutes prior to leading police in Erie, Pennsylvania on a pursuit, Steve “Stevie” Stephens ordered a $5.35 meal from Harborcreek McDonald’s.
According to The New York Times, Stephens went through the drive thru at the restaurant, 4316 Buffalo Road in Erie, at around 11 a.m. on April 18. He placed an order for a 20-piece order of Chicken McNuggets and a large order of French fries at the restaurant.
The owner of the McDonald’s, Thomas DuCharme Jr., told GoErie’s Madeleine G. O’Neill about the incident. He said that a female employee at the second window of the drive thru recognized Stephens and notified her boss in the backroom.
While Stephens was waiting, the female employee got on the phone with police and the other employees attempted to buy more time by hanging onto his order of fries, saying they weren’t ready yet. Stephens told the McDonald’s employees that he “had to go” and drove out of the restaurant without his order of fries at a normal pace.
Watch a video of DuCharme explaining what happened below:
Shortly after receiving the tip from the employee, police located Stephens’ white Ford Fusion still nearby. When Stephens took note of the police behind him, he led them on a short pursuit down Buffalo Road.
A statement released by Pennsylvania State Police said that officers in pursuit of Stephens rammed the back of his Fusion and disabled it. As the car was spinning out of control and coming to a stop across from the former Burton Elementary School, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head.
Stephens killed himself on day three of a nationwide manhunt after he shot and killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. on April 16 and published a video of it on Facebook.
Police had said at briefings that they believed he was still in his Fusion and within a five-state radius, though they called it a nationwide hunt at a press conference April 17, offering up to a $50,000 reward for tips leading to his arrest. They said the last known contact from Stephens was a ping received in Erie from his cell phone, though they are currently unaware how long he was there for.