A man shot a black Airbnb guest because he thought he was a thief: a lawyer

A white California man has been charged with fatally shooting a black Airbnb guest, whose attorneys say he mistook the man for a burglar who broke into his car days earlier.

Mark Henry Waters, 66, pleaded not guilty to shooting the 21-year-old victim, who has not been named, on Monday, Oct. 2, in a quiet neighborhood in North San Jose. This was reported by ABC7.

Waters was initially released from custody, but a judge ordered him returned to prison, saying he was too dangerous to be in public.

According to Deputy District Attorney Aidan Walsh, ABC7 reports that Waters is charged with assault with a semi-automatic weapon, aggravated assault and battery with a firearm.

Police are also investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Prosecutors said in court Monday that the victim left an absentee Airbnb rental and headed to the grocery store.

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

He then shot the man with his back turned, resulting in a broken femur.

“[Waters] realized and knew the victim was running away and shot him anyway,” Welsh said. “There was nothing to cause him to fear the victim, the victim was in his front yard on his way to his front door.”

Waters’ attorney, Jose Badillo, said that while the sexagenarian knew the victim was on the run, he believed the stranger might be one of the suspects who broke into his car and stole garage doors a few nights earlier.

Badillo also said Waters, who has no prior convictions and cares for his grandchildren, mistook the victim’s headphones for a weapon.

The judge appeared to reject Badillo’s claims and found that there was no evidence that the victim was involved in a prior crime. He didn’t even match the description Waters gave when the raid first happened.

Waters was then returned to police custody despite additional character testimony from friends, family and neighbors.

Waters is due back in court on Dec. 22.


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