CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland police union president Steve Loomis said that multiple cases were under investigation while the manhunt for accused Facebook murderer Steve Stephens was ongoing.
Loomis spoke to Cleveland 19 in response to comments made by city councilman Mike Polensek.
Polensek criticized the police department and the city's response to the Friday evening murders of Michael Kuznik and Trina Tomola at their used car dealership in the Collinswood neighborhood. He alleged that Cleveland police did little to get the word out, as well as descriptions of two of the cars taken.
"Only after I raised hell," Polensek said. "Why isn't the news media being alerted and the citizens? I don't understand why there was no public pronouncement. Why no news conference, why no show of sympathy for this family?"
He said he felt those murders took a backseat to the manhunt for Stephens. Stephens was accused of shooting and killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin, Sr., and posting the video of the murder on Facebook. Stephens was found in Erie, Pennsylvania on Tuesday and state troopers said he shot himself in the head after a short police chase.
"I understand people's frustration -- homicide victims' families frustration, but I can assure you those cases were still being worked at the same time this was. Our homicide detectives worked very, very hard," said Loomis.
Loomis defended the actions of the police department, saying that homicide detectives continued to work on solving the murders of Kuznik and Tomola even while the manhunt for Stephens continued. He said homicide detectives knew who killed Godwin as soon as the video was uploaded to Facebook.
"The homicide detectives at that point are basically out of it, they're just gathering evidence from the crime scene and maybe talking to as many people as they can from the crime scene but we knew very clearly who we were looking for," said Loomis.
While police may have known who they were looking for, they didn't know where Stephens was and Loomis said that posed a safety concern for the general public.
"He was a homicide suspect and an active shooter on the loose so we absolutely had to be all hands on deck for that," said Loomis. "He said 'I'm going to continue to kill' he said it in his Facebook that's information that we had and if we don't take those actions, and if we don't make it all hands on deck and get as much help as we can, and he does continue to kill people then the onus is going to be on us as the Cleveland Police Department."
He went on to say authorities knew Stephens was capable of cold blooded murder.
"He was saying he was going to do it again, so it was a very, very high priority," Loomis said. "As far as police officers on the street we had the same uniform presence that we had, but for every one police officer that you saw hanging around the casino or Progressive Field during the Indians game there was two that you didn't."
The increased attention on Godwin's murder did result in one positive for police.
"In this case, because of the social media and because of the media attention that it got, we were able to garner a lot more help. I wish we were able to do this with every single one of these homicides," said Loomis.
Polensek will try and generate a grass roots effort by holding a vigil at the Mr. Cars lot on East 185th Street on Friday night at 6 p.m., almost a week to the minute of the horrible crime.