“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.”
So said Tonya Godwin-Baines, one of the daughters of Robert Godwin Sr., the man cruelly gunned down on a Facebook video, in an emotional family interview on CNN on Monday night.
And so, she said, “each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer. “We want to wrap our arms around him.”
Forgiveness was the greatest gift their father gave them, members of the family told CNN and ABC.
And with their emotions still raw, their anger unconcealed, forgiveness nevertheless was their message as they spoke on television just a day since tragedy overwhelmed them Sunday.
Even as they spoke, the man Cleveland police say fatally shot Robert Godwin Sr. was still on the loose. Steve Stephens, 37, is the object of a multistate manhunt that as of early Tuesday morning police said had yielded hundreds of tips but no arrest.
Simultaneously, the fact that police say Stephens recorded and uploaded a video of the killing to Facebook was provoking another national discussion, also perhaps likely to produce little result, as the cycle of violence in real time on social media has been unleashed and, experts have told The Post, is probably destined to get worse.
As horrible as the killing of Godwin was, his son Robert Godwin Jr. and other family members said the video made it worse.
“The man who videotaped him getting shot stripped him of his dignity,” Godwin told CNN’s Don Lemon.
“Stripped him of his dignity,” he repeated. “And to post it online for the whole world to see, I’m just angry.”
It was a special kind of anguish, said Naujia Godwin, a daughter of the shooting victim.
“Somebody near to you and dear to you” killed, she said. “And it’s broadcast.
“Everyone was calling me, texting me. ‘Did you see that video?’ ” she said.
“Why did you put it on line?” she asked, addressing the killer.
“Why would you do that to my dad?”
Another daughter, Debbie Godwin, told ABC News she didn’t watch the video “because I didn’t want that to be the last remembrance of my father.”
“He didn’t deserve to just be picked out randomly,” she said. “And then to add insult to injury you tape it while my father is begging for his life.”
The son, recalling a lesson his father taught him, said of the shooter: “I forgive him because we are all sinners.” Then, addressing Stephens, he added, “If you’re out there, turn yourself in. You’ve done enough damage. Just turn yourself in.”
Godwin Jr. said he didn’t want the killer to die. His fate, he said, is “up to God. … That’s how our father raised us. To love people.”