EMERYVILLE, Calif. — San Francisco police arrested a suspect Thursday in the fatal stabbing of technology executive Bob Lee, law enforcement officials announced Thursday, drawing a close to a nine-day manhunt that rattled the city and drew national attention.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott identified the suspect at a news conference Thursday afternoon as Nima Momeni, 38, of Emeryville, a suburb of San Francisco. Scott confirmed that Lee and Momeni knew each other; he declined to go into detail about a possible motive.
Momeni, an IT consultant, will be charged with murder, with a special allegation that he used a knife as a weapon, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins told reporters. She plans to file a motion to detain him without bail.
He is expected to be arraigned Friday afternoon.
The killing has intensified debate about crime in San Francisco. In her remarks, Jenkins nodded to the scrutiny but defended the city’s handling of public safety issues.
“I acknowledge and understand how the loss of a young, vibrant leader and innovator has rocked our city and even beyond,” Jenkins said.
She went on to criticize public figures who tried to portray Lee’s killing as a symptom of a “lawless” metropolis without knowing all the facts — a group that included tech mogul Elon Musk.
“I must point out that reckless and irresponsible statements, like those contained in Mr. Musk’s tweet that assumed incorrect circumstances of Mr. Lee’s death, serve to mislead the world in its perception of San Francisco,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins was referring to a tweet Musk sent within hours of Lee’s death. He decried “violent crime in SF” and appeared to blame the killing on “repeat violent offenders.” (He tagged Jenkins in the post.)
Momeni describes himself as an information technology consultant and entrepreneur on his LinkedIn page. He lists himself as the owner of a tech company called Expand IT Inc. and as a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.
He lived and worked from an apartment in a loft building in Emeryville, across the bay from San Francisco, said Sam Singer, a public relations executive who uses the space next door.
In an interview Thursday, Singer said he was “absolutely in shock” and described Momeni as a “very nice gentleman.”
“He greeted us when we came into the building, welcomed us, gave us a tour of his office space and living space next door,” Singer said. “He came over and visited ours, gave us a handful of cards and said: If you ever need IT help, please let us know, we’re happy to help.”
Scott, the police chief, told reporters that officers responded to a reporting of a stabbing around 2:30 a.m. April 4. They discovered Lee with apparent stab wounds.
He was rushed to a hospital, where he died of his injuries.
In a security video published by the Daily Mail, Lee can be seen staggering and appearing to ask for help after he was stabbed.
Lee had been working as the chief product officer of the cryptocurrency company MobileCoin. He was previously the chief technology officer of Square (now known as Block), a financial technology startup co-founded by the former Twitter chief Jack Dorsey.
He went on to create Cash App, a well-known money transfer service.
Lee also was an investor in Musk’s SpaceX venture, as well as other tech firms, such as the social audio app Clubhouse, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In a statement, Lee’s family praised his work in the technology industry and described his adoration for San Francisco.
“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,” the family said.
The family thanked law enforcement “for bringing his killer to Justice,” adding: “Our 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.”
David Ingram reported from Emeryville and Daniel Arkin from New York.
Bryan Gallion, Tavleen Tarrant and Suzanne Ciechalski contributed.