The white California man accused of shooting a Black Airbnb guest from behind as he walked to a grocery store near his rental home believed the unarmed victim was carrying a gun and may have been the thief who broke into his car days earlier, his lawyer claimed in court Monday.
Other shocking details emerged this week about the “unprovoked attack,” which cops say left an unnamed 21-year-old victim with a broken femur and Waters, 66, under investigation for a possible hate crime.
After initially bailing out after the shooting, a Santa Clara County judge ruled Monday that Mark Waters, who pleaded not guilty on Monday, must remain in custody because he’s “too dangerous to be out in the public,” reported news.
Cops said the victim left his Airbnb rental down the street from Waters’ home to walk to a grocery store on the evening of Oct. 2. As he crossed the street, he told cops he spotted Waters bust out of his front door and “quickly approach” him with a gun drawn, ABC 7 reported, citing the district attorney’s office.
The unarmed man took off running in fear, prosecutors said, but Waters allegedly fired away, striking him in the leg while his back was turned away from him. When police arrived, they rendered first aid to the victim while Waters remained at the scene, the district attorney’s office revealed Monday.
“He comprehended and knew that the victim was running away, and he shot him anyway,” said Deputy District Attorney Aidan Welsh, according to ABC 7. “There was nothing that would cause him to fear the victim, the victim had not stepped foot at his front door on his driveway in his front yard.”
Video of the shooting was given to police by a neighbor. The clip ultimately corroborated the victim’s claim that he was ambushed while walking unarmed down the street, prosecutors said.
Cops said they searched Waters’ home and seized multiple firearms. A defense attorney for Waters, Jose Badillo, tried to make sense of what possessed his client to fire at a complete stranger during a hearing on Monday.
Badillo said that Waters’ car had been broken into a couple of nights before the shooting and that his garage door openers were stolen. This, Badillo reportedly said, made Waters believe the victim was the man responsible for the break-in.
But a past description given by Waters to authorities appeared to contradict this claim, ABC 7 reported. The judge said Monday there was no evidence the victim was involved in the alleged break-in, nor did he resemble a suspect description Waters gave cops at the time.
Prosecutors argued that Waters’ negligence with a firearm was reason to keep him locked up until trial. The judge agreed, revoking Waters’ previous bail. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office says more charges may come as the investigation is looking into the incident as a possible hate crime, ABC 7 reported.
Waters’ defense also told a judge that Waters believed the victim was holding a gun when he was shot. Prosecutors revealed Monday that what Waters’ believed to be a weapon was actually a pair of headphones.
“Everyone should be safe walking to the store,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen, reported NBC News. “We will not tolerate such senseless and violent acts in this county. We wish the victim a speedy recovery and will make sure he receives justice for this brutal assault
A spokesperson for Airbnb told The Daily Beast that the company condemns this “vicious and unprovoked attack.” “We thank the San Jose Police Department as well as the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for their work to hold the perpetrator accountable and to send a message that hate crimes have no place in our society,” Airbnb said in a statement.
Prior to returning to custody, The Daily Beast reached Waters by phone on Friday but he declined to comment. He did the same when reached by local journalists at his San Jose home, claiming to not be home as reporters yelled questions at him as he checked his mail.