SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KRON) — Last April the city attorney for Sunnyvale announced plans to file a lawsuit against the owner of an Airbnb where an 18-year-old man was killed, and now his parents are taking action.
Elias Elhania was shot and killed at a Sunnyvale party in 2021. It was held at an Airbnb on Navarro Drive, but according to the city, the property was never registered as a short-term rental. According to police, a 17-year-old shot Elias twice, surrounded by 200 young people.
The victim’s parents are now suing the homeowner, Ke Zhou, and Airbnb saying they should be held responsible for the death and that Airbnb should have known about the illegal activity.
The attorney for the victim’s family said Sunnyvale’s laws require Airbnb owners to live on site.
“When you illegally rent an entire place, it’s likely a party will be thrown in an entire place and it’s likely that somebody is going to get hurt,” said Teresa Li, victim’s family attorney. “That would prevent this kind of party from happening and prevent a death.”
Li said that Airbnb has responded to her emails saying they had no obligation to follow that law.
Elias’ dad still wears his son’s winter jacket. “I feel like he’s still hugging me. I feel my son is hugging me, hugging me always,” said Abdalah Elhania, victim’s father.
KRON On is streaming news live now
“It is frustrating. Our son’s death affected us really bad,” said Zahra Elmenjaoui, victim’s mother. Elhania and Elmenjaoui believe that if Airbnb and Zhou had followed Sunnyvale’s ordinance on short-term rentals, their son would still be alive today.
KRON4 reached out to Zhou and Airbnb for comment regarding the lawsuit filed last week but has not heard back.