Scant details emerge on fatal stabbing of Cash App founder amid safety concerns | California

Details of how the tech executive Bob Lee came to be fatally stabbed in downtown San Francisco remained scant on Friday, as those who knew the Cash App founder mourn his death and others voiced frustration with public safety.

San Francisco police found Lee, 43, on the sidewalk in front of a condominium building with stab wounds shortly after 2.35am on Tuesday. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Details about the attack remain thin; surveillance footage released this week reportedly shows Lee stumbling along a sidewalk and seeking help in the aftermath, but police have not confirmed the circumstances of the attack or arrested a suspect.

Sgt Adam Lobsinger of San Francisco police said in a video message on Thursday that the investigation was still in its early stages and the department would not comment on evidence or speculate on circumstances.

The neighborhood where the stabbing occurred is near San Francisco’s waterfront Embarcadero district, a neighborhood full of tech offices and towering condominium buildings that is typically quiet 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. He leaves behind two children.

Friends, family and the wider tech community are mourning the loss of a man they called brilliant and someone who defied the arrogant and self-centered “tech bro” stereotype typical of Silicon Valley.

Lee exuded an “innate kindness”, said longtime friend Tommy Sowers, who met Lee at a fundraiser in Washington DC where Sowers, a former Green Beret and Iraq war veteran, was running for Congress. Lee, newly hired at Square, was touting an app that could help his campaign in fundraising. Both men were from Missouri.

Lee’s two children joined the men on hikes and dinners. It was not unusual for Lee to be out late, said Sowers, and he loved San Francisco.

“I’d want to go to bed at like nine. He talked me into going someplace till midnight, and then he’d be like, ‘Well, there’s another one,’ and you’d go to that. And he’s like, ‘There’s another one.’ He just had real boundless energy.”

Lee was also generous with his time coaching and championing fellow engineers and entrepreneurs, said Wesley Chan, co-founder of FPV Ventures. The two met more than a decade ago when they both worked at Google, where Lee helped to build the Android smartphone operating system before its 2008 release.

FBI data compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle shows the city has a lower violent crime rate than other major metropolises, and suffers from property crime more than crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and assault. Still, Lee’s death has further enflamed the debate over public safety in San Francisco, particularly in the city’s downtown which has yet to bounce back from the pandemic. Tech leaders including Elon Musk have been quick to pile pressure on public leaders, with the Twitter and Tesla CEO tweeting “Violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately” and tagging the city’s district attorney in the post.

Some public officials have pushed back at a sentiment they say risks politicizing a death before the facts are fully known. “A small minority has tried to weaponize this tragedy to advance a narrative about a crime wave that just isn’t borne out by the data in San Francisco,” Kevin Benedicto, an attorney and San Francisco police commissioner, told the New York Times.

In a statement, San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, called the homicide “a horrible tragedy” and said that the city is prioritizing public safety.

Sowers said it was hard to picture what led to Lee’s violent death. “I can’t imagine a situation where he would instigate a conflict,” he said. “That’s the tragedy of it.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting

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