Man shot dead black Airbnb guest thinking he was a thief: Lawyer

A white California man has been accused of shooting dead a black Airbnb guest after his lawyers claimed he mistook the man for a thief who broke into his car days earlier.

Mark Henry Waters, 66, pleaded not guilty to the shooting Monday of an unnamed 21-year-old victim in a quiet north San Jose neighborhood, ABC7 reported.

Waters was initially released from custody but was sent back to prison by the judge, who ruled that he was too dangerous to be in public.

Citing Assistant District Attorney Aidan Walsh, ABC7 said Waters was charged with assault with a semi-automatic weapon, aggravated assault and use of a firearm.

Police are also investigating the incident as a hate crime.

In court on Monday, prosecutors argued that the victim, who was not present, left his Airbnb rental to walk to a grocery store.

Surveillance footage reportedly shows Waters approaching the victim with a gun.

He then allegedly shot the man while his back was turned, resulting in a femoral fracture.

“[Waters] understood and knew the victim was running and he shot him anyway,” Welsh said. “There was nothing to cause him to fear the victim, the victim had not set foot outside his front door in his driveway in his front yard.”

Waters’ attorney, Jose Badillo, agreed that while the 60-year-old knew the victim was running away, he believed the stranger could be one of the suspects who broke into his car and stole his garage door openers a few nights earlier.

Badillo also said that Waters – who has no criminal record and cares for his grandchildren – mistook the victim’s headphones for a gun.

The judge appeared to dismiss Badillo’s claims, clarifying that there was no evidence the victim was linked to the previous crime. It didn’t even fit the description Waters gave when the burglary first happened.

Waters was then taken back into police custody despite additional character testimonies from friends, family and neighbors.

Waters is scheduled to appear in court again on December 22. Man shot dead black Airbnb guest thinking he was a thief: Lawyer


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