Late Friday night at the Universal Coney Island in Pontiac, Michigan, Robert Wayne Lee, known online as “Boopac Shakur,” met a tragic end in a violent confrontation. Lee had made a name for himself on social media by hunting for alleged pedophiles. With a following of 11,000 on Facebook, he often posed as a 15-year-old girl to expose predators. Friday night at 10:30pm, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Lee accused two teenagers seated in a Pontiac restaurant near the corner of North Perry and MLK Boulevard of pedophilia and punched one of them. This action escalated rapidly, leading one teen to pull out a knife and the other a firearm, shooting Lee multiple times before fleeing the scene. They were arrested early the next afternoon.
Despite the rapid medical intervention, Lee succumbed to his injuries, marking a tragic end to his unsanctioned activities to expose alleged pedophiles. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in their news release remarked, “His one-man crusade has led to the arrest and criminal charges being filed against several men.” However, they also noted that he had mistakenly identified someone as a sexual predator who was not. The police, while acknowledging Lee’s contributions to four arrests, had repeatedly urged him to cease his activities due to concerns about legality and safety.
Lee, who was inspired by his three school-aged children and online videos by Dads Against Predators, often arranged in-person meetings with adults who made contact online with what they thought were underage individuals. Despite the confrontational nature of his work, Lee denied being a vigilante, stating in January to The Oakland Press, “A vigilante is doing police work without a badge.” His work, which mirrored operations like Chris Hanson’s ‘To Catch a Predator,’ had contributed to some arrests, including a corrections deputy, further highlighting the complexity of his operations. Despite the criticism, Lee persisted, even announcing classes for others who wished to follow in his footsteps.
In defense against accusations of vigilantism, in January, Lee told the Oakland Press, “I’m just putting the fishing pole in the water and seeing who’s biting.”
Although Lee’s work did contribute to some legal action against alleged predators, police had confirmed only four arrests based on Lee’s videos as of January, according to the Oakland Press. Among his most notable achievements was the suspension of a 33-year-old Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy. The deputy was investigated for allegedly trying to solicit an underage girl for sex, following Lee’s exposure.
The community’s reaction to Lee’s death has been a mixture of grief and homage to his unwavering determination to protect vulnerable individuals. Despite controversies surrounding his methods, many in the Pontiac community viewed Lee as a heroic figure against child predators. An outpouring of condolences and expressions of grief flooded Facebook, with many paying tribute to Lee’s determination.
Many are heart broken by the passing of Lee as many residents saw him as a hero, protecting children from predators. Many took to Facebook to share their condolences. 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.”
Ray McGill posted, “RIP Boopac Shakur, neighborhood hero!”
Saturday evening many residents who were touched by Lee’s death gathered in solidarity at the Universal Coney Island for a candle lighting paying homage to the ‘neighborhood hero.’ “Tonight was for you Boopac. Thank you for all of the amazing things you did, and all of the lives you changed. You were too good for this world. All of the incredible things you did will live on through all of us. Rest easy,” posted Rachel Fox.
As the case against the teenagers progresses, detectives are anticipated to transfer the matter to prosecutors for potential charges. While Lee’s passion and dedication to child safety will be remembered by many, his death underscores the urgent need for a collaborative, lawful approach to combat child exploitation, ensuring the safety, well-being, and justice for all individuals, particularly the most vulnerable. In the wake of this tragedy, Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to further arrests in the case. Tipsters remain anonymous and can call 1-800-SPEAK-UP to provide any relevant information. The collective call for unified, legal efforts in the fight against child exploitation resonates more than ever, highlighting the necessity for community and authorities to work together for the safety and justice of all individuals.
A GoFundMe was set up posthumously described Lee as someone who “dedicated his life to protecting the innocence of our children from those with malicious intentions,” claiming his efforts successfully exposed 132 predators.