In the two days since a GoFundMe campaign was launched by an Arizona college student, $85,000 has been raised for the family of murder victim Robert Godwin Sr.
Arizona State University student Wesley Davis set up the GoFundMe page after he viewed the Facebook video of 74-year-old Godwin being shot and killed in Cleveland by Steve Stephens.
“I just felt so bad for this family,” Davis, who has no association with the Godwin family, tells 12 News Tuesday, April 18. “I mean [it was] out of nowhere and on Easter [Sunday].”
Davis figured he would only raise $80 of his original $20,000 goal but when he checked the campaign website early Monday morning, $16,000 had been donated.
“I cannot imagine the pain his family is going through right now,” Davis wrote in the campaign description. “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.”
Davis’ campaign was not met without controversy as some commenters suspected the Phoenix resident was a fraud, especially after Cleveland police warned the public Monday that the family had not set up any GoFundMe pages and that they requested people refrain from giving money to such accounts.
Tonya R. Godwin-Baines, one of Godwin’s daughters, verified that Wesley’s account is legitimate.
“They’ve talked to all of us about that,” Godwin-Baines said during a phone call Wednesday, April 19. “I think it was commendable for him to do that. We are forever grateful to him. Being that he is a stranger and just reached out to us and wanted to help us — as the whole world [has done]. God bless him.”
“We have spoken with the GoFundMe campaign organizer, members of the family and local authorities,” GoFundMe said in a statement to 12 News. “We’ll guarantee the money will be deposited directly into the family’s bank account.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the money is getting to the family,” Davis says.