The fatal shooting of a Michigan man who was known to try to catch alleged pedophiles online was not connected to a confrontation he had with someone he had accused, officials said Tuesday.
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office had initially said Robert Wayne Lee, 40, was shot and killed after he accused a man at a restaurant of being a pedophile, but the sheriff said Tuesday that no longer appeared to be the case.
“When we originally responded to the call, the community inferred he could have been there for that reason, to confront a pedophile,” Sheriff Michael Bouchard said in a written statement Tuesday night. “As we get deeper in the investigation, we have yet to find any corroborative information on that point.”
A sheriff’s office spokesperson said Tuesday that investigations are dynamic and that information changes as cases progress.
Lee, also known as “Boopac Shakur,” was fatally shot Friday night at a restaurant in Pontiac, Michigan, authorities said. Two people have been arrested in connection with the shooting.
Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald issued a statement Tuesday intended to clear up inaccurate or misleading information.
“There is no evidence that the confrontation on September 29th was a planned meeting, or that it was part of any sting operation,” the statement said.
The two people who were are the shooting suspect — a 16-year-old boy — and an 18-year-old man, McDonald’s office said. The sheriff’s office initially said the shooter was 17.
McDonald also said no charges have been authorized.
In its statement Saturday, the sheriff’s office said Lee accused a man at the restaurant of being a pedophile and punched him, “causing the man to pull out a knife.”
“The second man produced a firearm and shot Lee several times,” the statement said. Lee was hospitalized and died later.
The sheriff’s office has described Lee as a “one-man crusade” who would pose as an underage girl online.
Lee’s efforts led to arrests and criminal charges against several men, the office said, but he had also mistakenly identified someone as a pedophile.
Both the sheriff's and the prosecutor's offices noted concerns that confronting people with such allegations could prompt violence.
“Mr. Lee’s conduct has never been sanctioned or encouraged by law enforcement or the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office,” McDonald said. “While identifying potential sex offenders is commendable, we were concerned that such confrontations would result in violence or injury.”
Officials also had concerns about Lee's tactics, which often interfered with law enforcement's ability to conduct investigations or properly gather evidence, the prosecutor’s office said.
“That meant that some individuals Mr. Lee identified could not be charged with crimes, or that cases against them were dismissed,” she said. “In two instances, Mr. Lee was investigated for and charged with crimes for destroying property of individuals who were not the target of his ‘sting’ operations.”