Oakland County sheriff’s deputies at a restaurant on Perry Street in northern Pontiac after a Friday night shooting, Sept. 29, 2023. (Peg McNichol / MediaNews Group)
A Pontiac man who gained notoriety for his unorthodox efforts to catch child predators was shot to death during an argument at a restaurant late Friday night. Two suspects have been arrested.
Oakland County Sheriff’s officials said Robert Wayne Lee, 40, was inside a Pontiac restaurant near the corner of North Perry and MLK Boulevard about 10:30 p.m. Friday when he confronted two men seated at a table.
Lee, who used the name Boopac Shakur as his online identity, accused one of the men of being an alleged pedophile and punched him, according to police. The man pulled a knife, police said, while the other man at the table pulled a gun, shooting Lee several times. The two men fled the restaurant.
Saturday evening, sheriff’s officials announced two males had been arrested. The suspected shooter is 17. The other is 18 years old, according to police. Both are believed to be Pontiac residents. Sheriff’s detectives worked with U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agents, which comprise the Pontiac Gun Violence Task Force.
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Detectives are expected to turn the case over to prosecutors for charges on Sunday or Monday. The suspects’ names are withheld until after they’re arraigned in court.
Lee, rushed to an area hospital, died of his injuries. Sheriff’s deputies used a tracking dog to search for the suspects.
In January, Lee told The Oakland Press he was “A vigilante doing police work without a badge.”
Preying on (alleged) child predators
He said in an interview that he was inspired by his three school-aged children, two girls and a boy, and online videos by a group called Dads Against Predators.. That group modeled their videos on former Detroit TV reporter Chris Hanson’s ‘To Catch a Predator’ segments on NBC’s Dateline news show.
Lee sometimes posed as a child online or used friends to act as decoy children, arranging an in-person meeting with the adults who made contact. He recorded online conversations and his in-person confrontations with the adults in parking lots, inside businesses and sometimes at homes where meetings had been arranged.
In some videos, he can be seen using a tool to flatten the other person’s tires to prevent them from driving off. He shared videos online of his conversations of police responding to calls from him or the people he confronted of his visits to the homes of some adults who contacted the decoy social media account.
He posted the videos to his social media accounts, including a Boopac Shakur Facebook page, which had more than 11,000 followers.
While Lee is credited with several arrests of suspected child predators, he’d also mistakenly identified at least one person as a suspect, who was later cleared, police said.
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Sheriff Michael Bouchard said police understood Lee’s desire to hold child predators accountable, warning that well-intentioned individuals often don’t know the requirements for collecting evidence that would lead to convictions. They also underestimate the potential violence involved in confrontations, who feel trapped and often lash out.
“When we have arrested predators in such circumstances, they have rammed police cars and exhibited other violent behavior in attempts to escape,” he said.
In January, Bouchard said sheriff’s officials were not advising or coaching Lee or anyone else doing similar work. At that time, police confirmed four arrests based on Lee’s videos, including a Waterford Township resident and corrections deputy at the county jail. Lee was typically not named in police reports and hadn’t been called to testify in cases related to his vigilante work.
Bouchard and David Williams, chief assistant attorney in the county prosecutor’s office, said police should conduct child-predator investigations, because they can be dangerous.
In recent months, deputies called to Lee’s confrontations had told him to stop the activities. Instead, he expanded his operation, which included accounts for his fans and classes for those interested in starting their own vigilante-style operation.
One video posted nearly six months ago and shared again online Saturday shows deputies at a gas station telling Lee to get back in his car. Lee can be heard accusing the departing deputies of not helping him by arresting his latest target. The video ends as Lee confronts a man in a passenger car, who speeds away.
Pontiac Universal Crime’s CEO Rahim Harris and Kevin Sanders, PUC’s public relations advisor, made a statement on Facebook sharing news of Lee’s death.
“Although there are many questions, thoughts, and emotions, we know that God can and will bring comfort and peace during a time of tragedy, as only he can do,” they said. “We would like to send our sincere prayers and condolences to the family and friends of our dear brother: Robert “Boopac Shakur” Lee who lost his life due to another senseless act of violence here in the Pontiac community. We ask that this community take a moment to not invest time into discussing details and sensitive information, but for the respect of the family, whisper a prayer during this difficult time.”
They encouraged any witnesses to contact sheriff’s detectives.
Lee had worked for Sam’s Club in Auburn Hills but on Sept. 18 announced online that he had been fired and needed an attorney to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit. He told The Oakland Press on Sept. 22 that he and his employer had a timekeeping dispute.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest in the case. Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP. Tipsters remain anonymous.
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