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Tech consultant charged in killing of Cash App founder Bob Lee

The deadly stabbing of Money App founder Bob Lee final week reignited a debate over crime in San Francisco, with some high-profile figures decrying the killing as yet one more instance of rampant, wanton violence.

However in asserting homicide fees Thursday, authorities mentioned Lee was killed by somebody who knew him, not a random road attacker.

Nima Momeni, 38, a tech marketing consultant and entrepreneur, was taken into custody with out incident Thursday morning in Emeryville, San Francisco Police Chief Invoice Scott introduced at a day information convention.

Momeni was charged with homicide and a particular circumstance that he used a knife to kill Lee, San Francisco Dist. Atty. Brooke Jenkins mentioned.

Authorities mentioned Thursday that the case continues to be beneath investigation and didn’t disclose a motive.

The arrest marks a twist within the much-watched case, which some had used to push a story that San Francisco was overrun by random road crime. Nonetheless, like most murder victims in america, Lee knew his attacker, authorities mentioned.

“That is extra about human nature and human conduct than it’s about our metropolis,” Scott mentioned. “You are taking this out of San Francisco — they knew one another. It may’ve been in every other metropolis. I don’t assume it might’ve modified the circumstances.”

After Lee’s loss of life, tech executives and different high-profile figures, together with Twitter Chief Govt Elon Musk, decried the violence within the metropolis, the place progressive Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin was recalled by voters final 12 months after being criticized as “smooth on crime” and accused of neglecting to deal with public security and homelessness.

“I need to level out that reckless and irresponsible statements like these contained in Mr. Musk’s tweet that assumed incorrect circumstances about Mr. Lee’s loss of life serve to mislead the world of their notion of San Francisco and in addition negatively affect the pursuit of justice for victims of crime, because it spreads misinformation at a time when police try to unravel a really tough case,” Jenkins mentioned Thursday.

Lee, 43, the chief product officer at cryptocurrency startup MobileCoin, was discovered bleeding close to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge round 2:35 a.m. April 4. He was taken to a hospital, the place he died.

Momeni’s arrest was first reported by the information outlet Mission Native, which mentioned police had served a search warrant at an deal with in Emeryville that matches a enterprise owned by Momeni, Develop IT.

The constructing is a mixture of residential and workplace area, in keeping with Chris Donatiello, who lives there and mentioned many within the constructing know Momeni.

Round 5 a.m. Thursday, at the very least six cops confirmed up on the constructing.

“I noticed the police exterior all equipped. I didn’t know what was occurring,” Donatiello mentioned.

Momeni had appeared pleasant and welcoming, Donatiello mentioned, including that nothing appeared amiss when he noticed Momeni after Lee’s loss of life.

“I noticed him final week. Simply exterior within the car parking zone,” Donatiello mentioned. “I mentioned, ‘Hey, haven’t seen you shortly. How are you?’ and he mentioned, ‘Higher now that I’m seeing you.’”

Sam Singer, who works in an workplace subsequent to Momeni’s and serves on the constructing’s board, mentioned they met when Singer was shifting into his area a month in the past.

He referred to as Momeni a “sort, skilled gentleman” however famous an odd incident the night time earlier than Lee’s loss of life, April 3, when a lady entered the constructing and screamed the identify “Nima,” in keeping with Singer in addition to posts within the constructing’s personal Fb group.

Singer mentioned the episode was so unnerving to residents {that a} grievance was filed about it.

Singer mentioned that Momeni labored and lived in his unit, and had been there way back to 2021. When Singer first moved into his personal unit, Momeni left a observe for him, welcoming him to the constructing.

“He was very welcoming, sort and charming. You’d by no means have any concept that he can be accused of such a heinous crime.”

A neighbor, who declined to offer her identify, mentioned cops, together with a SWAT workforce, arrived Thursday morning to arrest Momeni and informed residents on his ground to remain inside.

“It makes me surprise how homeowners and landlords vet their renters,” she mentioned. “I’m not wild about realizing somebody lived in our constructing who goes round with a knife.”

Momeni was charged in 2011 in Alameda County with driving with a suspended license and promoting a switchblade knife. He pleaded no contest to the shifting violation, the knife cost was dismissed, and he was sentenced to 10 days in county jail and three years of probation.

He was additionally charged in 2004 with driving drunk, a misdemeanor. The cost was ultimately dismissed.

Lee’s brother, Tim Lee, mentioned after the arrest that the household was “grateful for the SFPD for bringing this individual to justice so rapidly.”

“Hopefully now our household can start the therapeutic course of,” he wrote on Fb. “I additionally need to thank the 1000’s of pals, household, and group which have reached out with help over the past week.”

Bob Lee was chief expertise officer on the funds platform Sq., which has since been renamed Block, when he based the corporate’s cell fee service Money App in 2013. He lived in Mill Valley, Calif., after his mom died in 2019, then he moved to Miami in October, in keeping with a Fb submit final week by his father, Rick Lee.

“Bobby labored tougher than anybody and was the neatest individual I’ve ever identified,” Rick Lee wrote. “He will probably be missed by all those who knew him.”

On the time he was killed, Bob Lee was staying in San Francisco for a number of days to spend time with pals after a MobileCoin management summit, mentioned his good friend Doug Dalton, who met Lee years in the past when each have been software program engineers.

“Some folks have been attempting to border this as rampant crime,” Dalton wrote in a textual content message to The Instances, however “San Francisco is popping round.” Slightly than a random attacker on the road, the person accused of killing Lee was “in a good friend group however not a good friend,” Dalton mentioned.

San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin referred to as Lee’s killing tragic however mentioned the concept that it was reflective of a wave of violent crime was inaccurate.

“The response by the press and numerous leaders within the tech group was untimely and damaging,” Peskin mentioned in an interview. “This was not a random killing. The suspect knew the sufferer.”

After the arrest, San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston tweeted that individuals who “tried to take advantage of this tragedy to stoke hatred of the poor” ought to publicly apologize.

That features not simply nationwide and native politicians who made assumptions in regards to the killing, he informed The Instances in an interview, but in addition folks akin to Musk who mischaracterized crime in San Francisco.

“Inside hours of that homicide you had folks instantly blaming homeless folks, speaking about out-of-control road crime and drug use and calling for extra police, despite the fact that they don’t have a clue of what occurred,” Preston mentioned. “The place does this even come from? Why is likely one of the richest folks on the earth tweeting a couple of homicide in San Francisco and tweeting to the district lawyer?”

After Lee’s loss of life, Musk tweeted that “violent crime in SF is horrific,” and requested Jenkins whether or not the town was taking motion “to incarcerate repeat violent offenders.”

In response to inquiries from The Instances about Musk’s feedback, Twitter responded with an automatic poop emoji.

George Tita, a professor of criminology at UC Irvine, mentioned feedback akin to Musk’s are damaging as a result of they alter the general public’s notion of crime versus the actual impact of it.

“You possibly can’t stroll these statements again,” Tita mentioned. “The harm is completed.”

Such high-profile criticism, he mentioned, additionally tends to get way more consideration than evaluation of metropolis crime statistics, which present crime shouldn’t be skyrocketing as critics have portrayed.

“Some folks consider locations like San Francisco and Los Angeles are a struggle zone, when it’s simply not the case,” Tita mentioned. “It’s crucial to not be dismissive and say there isn’t crime or we must always ignore it. However it’s important to hold perspective on this.”

Enterprise capitalist Matt Ocko, a good friend of Lee’s, tweeted shortly after his loss of life that the “criminal-loving metropolis council” and Boudin “have Bob’s literal blood on their palms,” charging that metropolis officers enabled “a lawless SF for years.”

Ocko has repeatedly tweeted about crime in San Francisco. On Wednesday, he mentioned residents have been experiencing “seething, grinding lawlessness” and forged doubt on the town’s official crime statistics. He didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Violent crime — which in keeping with the California Division of Justice consists of murder, rape, theft and aggravated assault — peaked in 2013 in San Francisco with 7,064 incidents. That quantity has fallen over the past decade, all the way down to 4,796 incidents in 2020 earlier than a slight uptick to 4,887 incidents in 2021. The state company has but to launch crime statistics for 2022.

From 2019 to 2021, San Francisco noticed a 17% drop in violent crime. Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Sacramento, Fresno and Kern counties all noticed will increase, in keeping with the Division of Justice.

San Francisco reported 56 homicides in 2022, fewer than cities of comparable dimension akin to Denver, with 88 homicides; Nashville, with 108 homicides; and Oklahoma Metropolis, with 71 homicides.

Police Commissioner Kevin Benedicto identified that the town’s violent crime charge is decrease than that of different main cities.

“Total, for those who have a look at the final 5 years and 10 years on a longer-term scale, crime is at a historic low,” he mentioned. “San Francisco has public issues of safety like each large metropolis, and it’s unfairly portrayed as being within the midst of against the law wave that isn’t born out of the information.”

Nonetheless, though violent crime has fallen, San Franciscans reported feeling much less protected than they did a decade in the past, in keeping with the outcomes of a metropolis survey launched Thursday.

Residents rated the town’s security as a C+, down from a B in 2019, the final time the town performed the survey. About 63% of respondents mentioned they felt protected strolling alone of their neighborhood through the day, and solely 36% mentioned they felt protected strolling alone at night time. In 2019, 85% mentioned they felt protected through the day and 53% at night time.

In 2013, throughout San Francisco’s peak in violent crime, 44% of respondents mentioned they felt protected alone at night time.


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