How Cash App founder's stabbing unleashed 'lawlessness' debate in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO - The violent stabbing death of Cash App founder Bob Lee earlier this month fueled accusations of "lawlessness" and progressive policies run amok in San Francisco.
Lee's death in the usually quiet neighborhood of Rincon Hill on April 4 riled up Elon Musk, worried residents, and police union heads for what they called the city's lax attitude toward crime.
"Violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately. Is the city taking stronger action to incarcerate repeat violent offenders @BrookeJenkinsSF," Musk tweeted after the news of Lee's death came out.
Venture capitalist Matt Ocko also criticized San Francisco in the wake of his friend Lee's death.
"Bob Lee was a friend to me & multiple people in my firm. My heart goes out to his loved ones. Chesa Boudin, & the criminal-loving city council that enabled him & a lawless SF for years, have Bob’s literal blood on their hands. Take action," Ocko tweeted.
San Francisco Police Union head Lt. Tracy McCray, who has long blasted city leaders for violent crime, appeared on Fox & Friends last week, where she described Lee's final moments.
"There is video of him, showing where after he got stabbed he was walking around asking for help. Unfortunately, no one helped him. There was a car there. He went up to them, they took off," McCray said before she quipped. "That's your Good Samaritan in San Francisco."
She later told KTVU that she never saw that video herself.
McCray also said Lee's killing appeared to be a "random act of violence," which later turned out not to be the case.
On Thursday, city leaders put to bed false narratives surrounding Lee's death and pushed back against the fear mongering.
They identified Lee's alleged killer as tech entrepreneur Nima Momeni and made it clear that the two were not strangers.
"We can confirm that Mr. Lee and Mr. Momeni knew each other," said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott.
"Mr. Lee was murdered by somebody that he knew," said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.
However, Jenkins and Scott would not elaborate on what was the relationship between the suspect and victim.
Jenkins lambasted Musk for his rhetoric on social media.
"Reckless and ill-responsible statements like those contained in Mr. Musk's tweet that assumed incorrect circumstances about Mr. Lee's death serve to mislead the world in their perceptions of San Francisco and also negatively impact the pursuit of justice for victims of crime," Jenkins said.
Scott said where Lee was killed is insignificant as it relates to the case because it would not have changed the circumstances.
"This doesn’t have to do with San Francisco, this has to do with human nature," Scott said. "Facts show and research shows that most people who commit homicides know the people that they kill."
The chief said while the focus around Lee's killing has gained national attention, he's not the only case investigators are working to solve.
"Let's not forget that we have lost lives in this city and there's work to be done on those cases as well," he said.
Violent crime in San Francisco isn't higher than other cities of similar size and also declined within the last decade, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
California has four categories of violent crime – homicide, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and San Francisco saw a peak in 2013 with 7,064 incidents, according to the California Department of Justice database. But that rate dropped over the last decade, down to 4,796 incidents in 2020 before a slight rise to 4,887 incidents in 2021. The state hasn't yet released crime data for 2022.
The Los Angeles Times pointed out that San Francisco's violent crime rate is lower than cities of comparable size like Denver and Nashville.
San Francisco recorded 56 homicides in 2022, but Denver saw 88 homicides, Nashville had 108, Oklahoma City recorded 71 and Columbus, Ohio had 140.