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Airbnb Sues Person Who Held Unauthorized Sunnyvale House Party Where 2 Were Shot

SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) -- Airbnb said Tuesday it was taking legal action against a booking guest who held an unauthorized party at a house in Sunnyvale where two people were shot and one died.

"Somebody should be held responsible," said Daniel Erickson who has lived in the neighborhood for several decades. "I don't like that kind of thing going on. No, no, that was very disturbing."

The party was held on Saturday, August 7, and reportedly had 150 to 200 people in attendance, the San Francisco-based company said.

The house party, which was advertised on social media, was located at what neighbors described as a short-term rental on Navarro Drive.

At 10:19 p.m., officers with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety responded the residence and found an estimated 150 to 200 teenagers at the home. In a press release authorities confirmed officers were on scene but were waiting for additional resources and were trying to identify the homeowner when the shooting happened.

Police Outside a Sunnyvale House Where Gunfire Broke Out Overnight

18-year-old Elias Elhania was fatally shot and a second person was injured in the shooting, authorities said.

Both were taken to a San Jose hospital, where Elhania succumbed to his injuries. The second victim underwent surgery and is expected to survive, police said on Aug. 8.

Airbnb said it notified the guest on Monday of its intent to bring legal action, saying the guest violated the company's Community Standards and Terms of Service, and that the guest booked the listing under false pretenses. The unidentified guest has also been banned from the platform, the company said.

People renting out a property on Airbnb are prohibited from holding parties and other events. The ban was announced a year ago and followed highly-publicized incidents of out-of-control parties at Airbnb listings, including a shooting at an Airbnb mansion party that left five people dead on Halloween night in 2019.

The changes in its short term rental ordinance in Orinda that took place after the shooting have been reviewed by Sunnyvale Councilmember Mason Fong since the shooting in his city, including its one day reservation ban.

Fong happens to live in the neighborhood where the house party took place, and called 911 when he saw suspicious behavior.

He said he's set into motion already for the council to study whether changes need to be made to its short term rental ordinance. The council is expected to discuss the issue during its September 14 meeting.

Fong said residents have been vocal about their concerns since the deadly house party.

"(They've said), 'Hey, this is not just a one off, there are likely more Airbnb rentals that are most likely not in compliance so what are you, city official and city staff, doing about this," said Fong. "That is a very valid question. The city is taking various steps."

He said Sunnyvale police also plan to hold a meeting with neighbors to discuss its protocol on responding to calls.

The legal action against the Sunnyvale guest is similar to other action taken against guests in other cities across the country who threw unauthorized parties, including in Sacramento.

"It sounds like a good idea, it seems like a policy they should've been doing for awhile perhaps," said Doug Caldwell who lives near the Airbnb home.

Airbnb also announced Tuesday it would prohibit one-night reservations on Halloween for guests without a history of positive reviews and also apply certain restrictions on two-night reservations in entire home listings in the U.S. and Canada.

Maria Medina contributed to this report.


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