A suspect was arrested Thursday in the San Francisco killing of Cash App founder Bob Lee, officials said. San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott identified the suspect as Nima Momeni, 38, and said Momeni and Lee, 43, knew each other.
Momeni was booked on suspicion of murder, Scott said during a news conference. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said Momeni was being charged with murder in Lee’s death with an enhancement alleging the murder was committed with a knife.
Momeni is expected to be arraigned Friday. Prosecutors will ask a judge to hold him without bail. If convicted, Momeni faces a sentence of 26 years to life in prison, the district attorney’s office said.
Momeni was taken into custody without incident Thursday morning in Emeryville, a San Francisco suburb, Scott said. Investigators served search warrants in Emeryville and San Francisco, but Scott would not say whether a weapon has been found.
Scott also declined to give details on how they linked the death to Momeni or how the men knew each other. The chief also didn’t disclose a possible motive for the killing, saying the investigation was ongoing.
CBS station KPIX-TV reporter Jocelyn Moran reported on CBS News that the suspect and Lee were recorded leaving the Millennium Tower condominium building together prior to the attack, according to a source close to the investigation.
The arrest was first reported by the independent news website Mission Local.
On his LinkedIn profile, Momeni describes himself as an “IT Consultant/Entrepreneur” as well as the owner of a company called Expand IT. Business filings with the state list Momeni as the chief executive officer, secretary and chief financial officer of Expand IT INC, described as an information technology consulting business. He signed the filing in August 2022.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Momeni has been “a dedicated technology partner since 2005” and started Expand IT in 2010.
Criminal records show Momeni was charged with carrying a switchblade in 2011, a misdemeanor offense. The case was dismissed the following year after he took a plea. It was not immediately clear whether Momeni has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
Police found Lee with stab wounds in the Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco at approximately 2:35 a.m. April 4. He died at a hospital.
“I hope today’s arrest can begin a process of healing and closure for all those touched by this tragedy,” San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey tweeted.
Prominent tech leaders took to social media to mourn Lee’s death and blame San Francisco for what they call the city’s lax attitude toward crime. Scott and Jenkins pushed back against that narrative on Thursday.
“This doesn’t have to do with San Francisco, this has to do with human nature,” Scott said.
Jenkins specifically named tech billionaire Elon Musk, who posted the day after Lee’s death, “Violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately.” Musk also asked, “Is the city taking stronger action to incarcerate repeat violent offenders,” tagging Jenkins.
During Thursday’s press conference, Jenkins said, “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.”
San Francisco’s moribund downtown has not yet bounced back from the pandemic. The neighborhood where the stabbing occurred is near the Embarcadero waterfront and full of tech offices, towering condominium buildings and not much else late at night.
Lee is known for creating the widely used mobile payment service Cash App while working as chief technology officer of the payment company Square, now known as Block. He was the chief product officer for the cryptocurrency firm MobileCoin at the time of his death.
Lee was back in San Francisco for a visit after moving to Miami in October, his father, Rick Lee, said on social media. The two had been living in the San Francisco suburb of Mill Valley.
“Bob would give you the shirt off his back,” Rick Lee wrote. “He would never look down on anyone and adhered to a strict no-judgment philosophy. Bobby worked harder than anyone and was the smartest person I have ever known.”