SAN FRANCISCO -- Bob Lee, founder of Cash App and the former chief technology officer of Square, was identified as the man stabbed to death early Tuesday morning near downtown San Francisco, according to his current employer, cryptocurrency startup MobileCoin.
Officers responded at about 2:35 a.m. to a report of a stabbing in the 300 block of Main Street in the city's Rincon Hill neighborhood. Officers found the victim who was taken to a hospital and succumbed to his injuries there, police said.
The city's medical examiner's office had not yet identified the victim as of Tuesday evening, but friends and co-workers of Lee told KPIX he was the victim. Early Wednesday morning, MobileCoin confirmed the death of the 43-year-old Lee, who was the Chief Product Officer of San Francisco-based cryptocurrency startup.
Lee had moved to Miami late last year but was in town for the MobileCoin leadership summit last week, and was staying a few nights extra to see friends. Longtime friend Doug Dalton met Lee years ago when they were both software engineers just starting their careers.
"He brought people together. He brought technologies together," said Dalton. "He was a wonderful father, he was just always doing the best that he possibly could."
Dalton says he and Lee as well as other friends got together the night before he was killed.
"That area that he was walking back from was headed right toward his hotel," he said.
While San Francisco police have released very limited information regarding the deadly stabbing, some details about the fatal attack have surfaced.
According to a story published by the San Francisco Standard, Lee can be heard screaming "Help! Someone stabbed me!" in the audio of the 911 call he made with his cell phone prior to officers arriving. The San Francisco Standard also reported that Lee could be seen in surveillance video from an area building walking west up Main Street after being mortally injured. The video reportedly showed him walking up to a parked car that had its hazard lights on and lifting his shirt -- apparently to show his wound as he asked for help -- before the vehicle drove away.
According to a security manager at a nearby building, surveillance cameras in the area captured video of Lee walking up Main Street after he'd been stabbed. Lee could be seen holding his cell phone, crossing the street at Harrison, then walking back down Main toward the Portside condo complex and collapsing less than 20 feet from the front door. He later died at the hospital.
Those who knew him have been leaving flowers near the scene.
"I feel like he had so much more to offer and this is just shocking that this has happened," Dalton said.
His father Rick Lee, who had been living with him, posted about his son on Facebook.
"Life has been an adventure with two bachelors living together, and I'm so happy that we were able to become so close these last years. Bob would give you the shirt off his back," the post read in part. "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. He will be missed by all those that knew him."
"Bob was a force of nature," MobileCoin CEO Joshua Goldbard said in a statement to KPIX. "He helped to birth Android and CashApp into our world. Moby was his dream: a privacy protecting wallet for the 21st century. I will miss him every day."
On Wednesday, Goldbard offered a lengthy tribute to Lee on his Twitter page and on MobilCoin's Moby app website.
"Bob was a dad, the former CTO of Square where he created Cash App & CTO of Mobile Coin. He was a generous decent human being who didn't deserve to be killed," wrote Bill Barhydt, CEO of Abra, on Twitter.
On Twitter Tuesday evening, a flood of messages were posted eulogizing Lee, many including his @crazybob Twitter handle.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square (which is now called Block), responded to the news via a post early Wednesday on the decentralized social media app Nostr. "Heartbreaking," Dorsey wrote. "Bob was instrumental to Square and Cash App."
Mixed martial arts fighter Jake Shields remembered Lee as a "loyal friend" in a tweet, writing, "RIP brother."
Shields' tweet garnered the attention of Twitter's new owner Elon Musk, who chimed in to say, "Violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately." Musk tagged San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins in his tweet.
San Francisco Crime:
On Wednesday morning, Jenkins offered her own statement on her Twitter page.
"I want to extend my sincerest condolences to Mr. Lee's family members & loved ones for his loss," Jenkins said. "We do not tolerate these horrific acts of violence in San Francisco."
San Francisco has been grappling with an apparent uptick in crime as it still attempts to bounce back from the pandemic. Preliminary police data reports 12 homicides in San Francisco this year, an uptick of 20% compared to the same time period in the previous year. In total, there were 56 homicides in San Francisco in 2022, which is the exact same number of homicides the city saw in 2021.
"The homicide of Bob Lee is a horrible tragedy and my sympathies go out to his family and friends. The Police are actively investigating what happened and will share details as soon as they can," said Mayor London Breed in a statement. "San Francisco is prioritizing public safety, including recently passing our budget supplemental so we have the police staffing necessary to have more police officers in our neighborhoods and to investigate violent crimes when they do occur. I'm confident that when the Police make an arrest in cases like this, our District Attorney will do what's necessary to hold any individuals accountable for their actions."
San Francisco police chief Bill Scott released a statement Wednesday evening, offering his condolences to Lee's family and assuring "everyone that our investigators are working tirelessly to make an arrest and bring justice to Mr. Lee and his loved ones, just as we do on every homicide that occurs in our city."
He also noted that because the investigation was in the early stages, police would not be able to comment on the evidence in the case or speculate on the circumstances of the crime.
Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who represents the neighborhood where the fatal stabbing happened, said, "This is a senseless tragedy that I know is made worse by the fact that no suspect is yet in custody."
He added, "I've also heard from many constituents in the area -- some of whom have already voiced concerns to me about public safety challenges -- and I'm asking everyone to cooperate with police in their investigation, especially those with access to surveillance video that may help."
The fatal attack has raised the level of concern for many in the Rincon Hill neighborhood where Lee was stabbed.
Rincon Hill has changed over the years as high-rise condo buildings have gone up one after another. Some say they used to feel safe in the neighborhood but definitely not now.
Mojo moved to San Francisco from Atlanta in 2019. He said that, during the pandemic, it seemed that crime has got worse.
"Right now it's fever pitch, especially when we have tech titans and captains of industry being murdered on the street," he said.
Mojo says he rarely ventures outside after the sun goes down.
"The reality of it is if your boots are on the ground, this is ground zero. Your heart rate is going to increase and how do I feel? Terrified," Mojo added.
No arrest has been made in the case and San Francisco police have not released any suspect details.
Anyone with information about the fatal stabbing was asked to call the Police Department's tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" at the start of the message.
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