'We Will Not Tolerate Such Senseless And Violent Acts': Man Shot Unarmed Black Man Leaving Airbnb Rental, Police Say

The incident is being investigated as a potential hate crime, the San Jose Police Department said.

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By Gabrielle Bienasz

An unarmed 21-year-old black man leaving his Airbnb rental was shot by a white man named Mark Waters, the San Jose Police Department said in a press release on Friday.

"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," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen in the release.

Waters' arraignment takes place on Monday. It also is being investigated as a hate crime, the department added. The incident occurred on October 2.

The victim's name was not in the release, but according to the police statement, he was staying at an Airbnb in San Jose and was walking to a grocery store close by.

The victim said Waters saw him crossing the street, went into the house, and retrieved a gun. The person tried to run away, and Waters shot him when his back was turned away and hit him in the leg, resulting in "serious injuries" to the area.

Police were able to give first aid to the victim, and he survived. The police said Waters was booked into county jail but did not say when. The charges against Waters are felony assault with a semi-automatic firearm resulting in great bodily injury and personal use of a firearm.

Black travelers have frequently reported facing racism and discrimination, including while staying in Airbnb rentals. Per USA Today, a 2015 research paper from Harvard University discovered that people on the platform with names that appeared to be African American were denied more often.

This led to an online movement discussing not being able to find housing because of race under the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.

In June 2020, Airbnb announced a discrimination-fighting initiative called Project Lighthouse, USA Today added.

"Racism, hate, and discrimination go against everything we believe in as a company and a global community. Since 2016, we've removed 1.3 million people from Airbnb for declining to treat others without judgment or bias—but there's still a lot more work to be done," the company wrote in a release at the time.

In October, Airbnb began testing a feature in Oregon that only shows a guest's initials before the booking is confirmed.

However, in 2019, the company faced a lawsuit in Oregon alleging the way the platform displays names and photos opens users up to racial discrimination and voluntarily settled; and the policy feature is "consistent" with that settlement, the company said.

Airbnb told Entrepreneur via email that it "condemn[s] 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," the statement added.

Entrepreneur was not able to get in touch with the San Jose Police Department.

"Everyone should be safe walking to the store," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen also said in the release.

Gabrielle Bienasz

Entrepreneur Staff

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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