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Police arrest suspect in Bob Lee killing, sources say

Former Square CTO Bob Lee joined MobileCoin in 2021. | Courtesy MobileCoin

San Francisco police arrested a suspect early Thursday in the fatal stabbing of tech executive Bob Lee, according to multiple City Hall officials.

Police have yet to disclose the identity of Lee’s alleged killer, but Supervisor Aaron Peskin and another City Hall source confirmed they were told by police that the department has a suspect in custody.

Reports by multiple news outlets, including Mission Local, have identified the suspect as Nima Momeni, who was taken into custody Thursday morning in Emeryville, according to the sheriff’s website. The 38-year-old man was booked into jail at 9:19 a.m. on a single charge of murder.

The Standard has not independently confirmed Momeni’s arrest was made in connection to Lee’s killing, but police announced they would hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. and a suspect in the fatal stabbing on April 4 is expected to be identified.

A source at City Hall told The Standard that the suspect knew Lee and the killing was not a random attack. Police apparently identified the suspect soon after the killing and have been monitoring their movements. 

Sam Singer, a well-known San Francisco public relations professional is Momeni’s neighbor.

“[I’m in] absolute shock, very nice gentleman, I would not have expected that he would be alleged to have committed a murder or a stabbing of any sort. A thorough professional, a very nice neighbor,” Singer said in an interview about Momeni.

Momeni also works in the tech industry and the two men were familiar with each other, according to sources quoted by Mission Local.

The killing last week made national headlines and sparked outcry about crime in San Francisco and an arrest was long in coming compared to similar crimes in the city, according to an analysis by The Standard.

Lee was found with stab wounds near the intersection of Harrison and Main streets in the Rincon Hill neighborhood in the early morning hours of April 4. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where he later died.

Surveillance footage reviewed by The Standard showed Lee walking up Main Street, holding his side, and approaching a stopped car as if to ask for help, before collapsing on the sidewalk.

Bob Lee attends The BUILD Gala Honoring Ben Silbermann with the Pitch Prize for Entrepreneurship on March 1, 2014 in San Francisco. | Drew Altizer Photography

Lee, 43, was a fixture in the Bay Area tech world. He previously worked as Square’s chief technology officer and created the mobile payments platform Cash App. 

Last year, he moved to Miami but returned to San Francisco to attend a leadership summit organized by his current employer, MobileCoin, where he served as chief product officer.

In the wake of his death, tech industry heavyweights excoriated city leaders for their handling of violent crime. Tesla CEO Elon Musk described the situation in San Francisco as “horrific.” Matt Ocko, a venture capitalist, went a step further by blaming progressive policies for crime in San Francisco, saying that city officials have “blood on their hands.”

But The Standard’s review of local crime data shows that, while reported incidents have steadily risen since historic lows during the Covid shutdowns, violent crime reports remain lower than pre-pandemic. Lee’s killing marked San Francisco’s 13th homicide of the year, compared to 10 in the same frame the year prior. The per-capita homicide rate in San Francisco is lower than many large U.S. cities.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who has been a frequently target on social media for his progressive stance on criminal justice reform, called for a public apology from those who rushed to judgment on the circumstances of Lee’s killing.

“The people who tried to exploit this tragedy to stoke hatred of the poor should be ashamed,” Preston wrote. “Some public apologies are in order.”

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