Heavily armed police descended on a converted warehouse in the Bay Area before dawn on Thursday and arrested an IT entrepreneur in connection with the fatal stabbing of Cash App founder Bob Lee, who was attacked in the early hours of April 4.
Lee’s ex-wife Krista Lee identified the suspect as Nima Momeni, calling him a “soulless piece of shit” in a text message to The Daily Beast.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott later confirmed Momeni, 38, was booked on a murder charge.
“We can confirm that Mr. Lee. and Mr. Momeni knew each other. However we will not be able to provide further details at this time regarding the evidence that confirms that information,” Scott said.
A neighbor at an address tied to Momeni in Emeryville, near Oakland, told The Daily Beast that Momeni was taken into custody early Thursday. The neighbor said he woke up to the sound of loud banging at around 5 a.m. and heard officers repeatedly declare, “Open the door. Come out, come out with your hands up.”
“I poked my head out there were bunch of armed guys, three or four armed guys at the end of the corridor. And then they [said], ‘Get back into your room,’” he said. The neighbor also watched officers search a truck outside the building.
The neighbor said he met Momeni after Momeni held the door open for him when he first moved to the building, adding that they’ve “been good friends” ever since. He described Momeni, who was originally from Iran and ran his own IT business, as “super sweet,” though Momeni moonlighted as a DJ and “pissed off all the neighbors playing loud music at all hours of the night” and hosting parties.
The neighbor said Momeni “seemed really unsettled” last week, and that he had recently been acting strangely. Just three or four days ago, Momeni allegedly approached the neighbor and asked him if he wanted to travel to Colombia. Two days ago, he randomly tried to gift the neighbor an “amazing Eames chair.”
According to the neighbor, Momeni indicated that he was expecting a visit from the police, though he cast it as related to a “conflict with some girl.”
The neighbor said he did not know Lee, and speculated that Momeni may have encountered him at a party. He added that he was not altogether surprised that Momeni has been accused of a grisly crime, since he’s a “tough guy, training all the time, super into weapons.” Momeni had a few guns and knives lying around at his bachelor-pad apartment, the neighbor claimed.
Alameda County court records obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle show Momeni was charged with selling a switchblade knife and driving with a suspended license in 2012. He pleaded no contest to the driving charge and the knife charge was dismissed.
Momeni’s arrest was first reported by Mission Local, who said Momeni was the owner of a small Bay Area IT business and may have known Lee. The pair were in a car together on April 4 when a fight broke out, ending with Lee’s stabbing, the outlet said, adding that police recovered a knife after the slaying.
Momeni lists himself on LinkedIn as the owner of Expand IT, Inc, a business he says supplies technological services and support. California business records show he founded a company called Expand It Services LLC in 2010 but that its business license was suspended in 2016. He incorporated Expand IT, Inc in 2021.
Lee, 43, who was the chief product officer of cryptocurrency company MobileCoin at the time of his death, had recently moved to Miami but was back in the Bay Area for a brief visit when he was stabbed at about 2:35 a.m. in a downtown area studded with other tech offices and million-dollar condos. His death spurred an outpouring of grief from other tech founders and stoked debate about crime in the city.
In a statement on Thursday, Lee’s family described him as a loving father, son and brother, and said his “dream was to make technology free and available.”
“Every day around the world, people interact with technology that Bob helped create,” the statement read.
“Bob will live on through these interactions and his dreams of improving all of our lives.”
The family said they were “very thankful” to the SFPD for “bringing his killer to Justice.” They revealed their next steps will be to work with the District Attorney’s office to “ensure that this person is not allowed to hurt anyone else or walk free.”
“Bob loved being in San Francisco, and San Francisco loved Bob. Walking down the street would sometimes be difficult because every young person with a dream would search him out, and he would make time for every one.”
Many pointed to Lee's death as proof that crime had grown out of control—but authorities said that claim was not back up by the facts surrounding Lee’s death.
“This is more about human nature, human behavior, than it is about our city,” Scott said. “Most people who commit homicides know the people that they kill, the research shows that. I do understand how people see and view things [about San Francisco], I see it and read it, I live here… but this has nothing to do with San Francisco, this has to do with human nature.”
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, who replaced Chesa Boudin in a recall vote last year after vowing to be tougher on crime, took particular aim at Twitter boss Elon Musk for spreading misinformation about random crime in San Francisco after Lee’s death.
“As you already heard Mr. Lee was murdered by somebody that he knew,” she said. “While we’re not going to release any additional facts at this time, I must point out that reckless and irresponsible statements like those contained in Mr. Musk’s tweet that assumed incorrect circumstances about Mr. Lee’s death serve to mislead the world and their perceptions of San Francisco and also negatively impact the pursuit of justice for victims of crime as it spreads misinformation at a time when police are trying to solve a very difficult case.”
She urged people to stop “contributing to the spread of such misinformation without having actual facts to underlie the statements that we make. Victims deserve that and the residents of San Francisco deserve that.”
Jake Shields, a former UFC fighter and friend of Lee, told The Daily Beast that he was “thankful there’s been an arrest made” but was surprised Lee may have known his killer. “I’ve never even seen Bob in any kinds [of] disgruntlement... so shocking to me,” he said.
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