Emeryville entrepreneur arrested in connection with stabbing death of Cash App exec Bob Lee
EMERYVILLE, Calif. - San Francisco police on Thursday arrested a tech entrepreneur in connection with the stabbing death of Cash App tech founder Bob Lee – ending the false rumors that this was a random attack in a lawless, overly progressive city.
In an interview on Thursday morning from Miami, Krista Lee said she was perplexed as to why the suspect -- Nima Momeni, 38, of Emeryville – would have killed her former husband.
But she did say: "This is the first step toward justice."
Momeni, who couldn't be reached for comment, was being held without bail at San Francisco County Jail. He is expected to be arraigned on Friday afternoon, according to DA Brooke Jenkins.
Momeni's LinkedIn account shows he is a UC Berkeley graduate – though he didn't attend there -- and the founder of Expand IT in Emeryville. He also has a minor criminal record, both involving knives, dating back to 2004.
Neither police nor prosecutors would say how the two knew each other or why Momeni would have allegedly stabbed the 43-year-old Lee to death on April 4 on Main Street at about 2:30 a.m. in the densely populated Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, near Google’s office and Oracle Park, home to the San Francisco Giants.
Lee had lived in Mill Valley but moved to Miami in the fall to live with his father after his mother died, his former wife said. It wasn't exactly clear why Lee was back in the Bay Area when he was stabbed.
At a news conference Thursday, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott would not elaborate on any evidence in the case. He acknowledged while officers had enough cause to arrest Momeni, there was more work to do on the case.
"I'd like to express my deepest condolences," Scott said. "We've been on this around the clock. The interest in this case is not lost on any of us."
Mission Local first broke the news that police arrested Momeni. Mission Local also reported that Lee and Momeni had been driving through downtown San Francisco together in Momeni's car.
Krista Lee said she didn't know anything about that.
MORE: What we know about Nima Momeni, suspect in Cash App founder Bob Lee stabbing death
Video obtained by the San Francisco Standard shows a wounded Lee holding his side as he walked up to a driver, showed him his injury and then collapsed on the ground. The driver of the car drove away without offering help. Lee made it to a nearby apartment before he collapsed again.
It has not been made public whether the driver knew for certain that Lee was injured. It is also unclear whether the driver took off out of fear and didn't know the exact circumstances.
Efforts to reach Momeni's family members, or determine if he had a lawyer, were not immediately successful on Thursday.
But neighbors all said they liked Momeni, describing him as friendly and welcoming.
A tenant at the Besler Building in Emeryville where Momeni worked and lived said he woke up to police yelling at someone to come out with their hands up. He saw the sirens of the patrol cars. A neighbor texted him that the police had surrounded Momeni.
"Everyone knows Nima," the tenant said. "He seemed very generous. If you asked everyone, they'd say the same thing as well."
Momeni had invited him to dinner, which he had declined.
Another tenant said that about 5 a.m., she heard police on an intercom calling the suspect out. She described Momeni as a nice, quiet man who kept to himself. She said she was surprised to hear the news about him and was curious as to what made him snap.
Sam Singer, a public relations expert, worked next to Momeni in the same building.
Singer said he was "absolute in shock. He was a very nice gentleman. He seemed to be a thorough professional, working all the time."
Momeni once offered Singer IT help if he ever needed it, and his live/work space was very nice, decorated with a pool table, a fully stocked kitchen and lots of technology equipment.
Singer said within the last month, there was a noise complaint in the building about a woman screaming his name in the hallway who couldn't find his apartment, but nothing came of it.
Alameda County court records show that Momeni was charged in 2011 with allegedly selling a switchblade knife and a DUI in 2004. A butterfly knife was found in his car during the DUI stop. Both cases were misdemeanors and both cases were dismissed, records show.
Meanwhile, Lee was a prominent figure in the tech world, contributing his talent to Android at Google, to being the first CTO of Square, when he also created Cash App, MobileCoin CEO Josh Goldbard said.
Tim Oliver Lee, Bob Lee's brother, called him a "loving son, brother and father," and said his brother's goal was to "make technology free and available."
On Facebook, Tim Lee said his brother came from a "modest" upbringing from the Midwest and started his tech journey by creating web pages for businesses near his parents growing up, Tim said.
Tim Lee also said his brother helped solve one of the first computer viruses known as Code Red and provided the solution "unpaid…gave it to the world for free," because "that is who Bob was," he wrote.
Bob Lee was also a father to two children and on very good terms with his former wife.
Lee's stabbing death further inflamed debate over public safety in San Francisco and its downtown, which has not yet bounced back from the pandemic.
Twitter’s owner Elon Musk took to the social media site to post that "violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately" and tagged the city’s district attorney.
The police chief addressed these conspiracy theories at the news conference, saying: "This is more about human nature and human behavior than it says about our city. This is not about San Francisco."
Jenkins also took Musk to task several times.
"Since waking up to Elon Musk's tweet, my office has worked hard to actually tell people not to make assumptions about this case," she said, urging the public to let the investigation play out and facts prevail.
Krista Lee emphasized that her former husband loved San Francisco and moved to Florida to live with his father after his mom died, not because he was scared to live in the city.
She said her former husband would really take affront to how people are painting San Francisco as a lawless town and blaming politicians for the crime that occurs.
She said while there are many questions that still remain, her children will now have a little more "peace of mind."