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Slain tech exec Bob Lee screamed for ‘help’ in 911 call after SF stabbing

A Twitter image shows Bob Lee, the former chief technology officer of Square, who was stabbed to death on Main Street in Downtown San Francisco on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Tech executive Bob Lee walked up an empty San Francisco street in the early hours of Tuesday gripping his side with one hand and his cellphone in the other, leaving a trail of blood behind him.

“Help!” he screamed into his phone. “Someone stabbed me.”

Those were some of the last words Lee said on a 911 call before collapsing on a Rincon Hill sidewalk, according to surveillance footage and records reviewed exclusively by The Standard.

Lee, the 43-year-old chief product officer of MobileCoin, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital and later died. Police say he suffered two stab wounds to the chest. His death has triggered a flurry of outrage from the tech industry over the state of public safety in San Francisco.

Workers clean what they believe to be human blood off the exterior of the Portside at 403 Main St. in San Francisco. | Jonah Lamb/The Standard

While police have released scant details about the stabbing, including whether they believe the attack was random or targeted, The Standard has pieced together new information about Lee’s final hours. 

Surveillance footage reviewed by The Standard shows Lee, who had already been stabbed, walking up Main Street away from the Bay Bridge at around 2:30 a.m. Lee crosses the intersection at Harrison Street and walks up to a parked white Camry with its hazard lights flashing.

Lee then lifts his shirt—as if to show the driver his wound and ask for help—and falls to the ground after the car drives away, the footage shows. He gets up and walks back toward the Bay Bridge before falling to the ground again outside an apartment building called the Portside.

At some point, Lee dialed 911 and repeatedly screamed for help, saying he needed to go to the hospital, according to the records reviewed by The Standard. Lee made the call at 2:34 a.m. and police arrived on the scene less than six minutes later.

Lee was unconscious when officers found him on the ground, police said. 

Wednesday morning, The Standard saw workers cleaning up what appeared to be blood on the sidewalk and wall outside the building where Lee collapsed.  Across the street, a trail of blood led up the sidewalk from beneath the Bay Bridge toward Harrison Street.

Police have not announced any arrests or suspects.

Read more: New video published Thursday shows Lee seeking help at Portside apartments

In his first public comments addressing the killing, SFPD Chief Bill Scott declined to say whether the stabbing was random.

“I have nothing to share yet,” Scott said at a Police Commission meeting on Wednesday evening. “We don’t want to be premature and definitely we don’t want to speculate so we are going to be thoughtful about following the evidence and we’ll put out what we’ll put out as soon as we can.”

In a later statement, Scott added: “I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Mr. Lee. There is no place for this kind of violent crime against anyone in our city. I want to assure everyone that our investigators are working tirelessly to make an arrest and bring justice to Mr. Lee and his loved ones, just as we try to do on every homicide that occurs in our city.”

READ MORE: Bob Lee’s Downtown SF Killing Sparks Rage

The stabbing stunned those who say the neighborhood, which is also called the East Cut, isn’t dangerous.

“Both the reality and the feel of the neighborhood is the East Cut is very safe," said Andrew Robinson, who heads the East Cut Community Benefit District. "So the shock and the unease for people is pretty significant."

Lee, who was a father and a longtime member of the Bay Area software development community, had recently moved to Miami. Back in 2011, he became Square's first CTO and was the developer of its Cash App (formerly called Square Cash). In 2021, Lee became the chief product officer of MobileCoin, a crypto payment company based in San Francisco. 

Lee's father, Rick Lee, eulogized his son on Facebook on Wednesday, saying, “I just lost my best friend" and “Bobby worked harder than anyone and was the smartest person I have ever known.”

READ MORE: What Is MobileCoin, the Company Where Slain Tech Exec Bob Lee Worked?

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at