YouTube shooter was motivated by her anger at the company, police say

YouTube Shooter Was Motivated by Her Anger at the Company, Police Say

The woman who authorities say shot three people at YouTube’s headquarters on Tuesday before killing herself was fueled by anger at the company and its policies, according to police and family members.

“It is believed the suspect was upset with the policies and practices of YouTube,” said Ed Barberini, the chief of police in San Bruno, Calif., where YouTube’s headquarters is located. “This appears to be the motive for this incident.”

Police said Nasim Najafi Aghdam, 39, of San Diego, opened fire seemingly indiscriminately on the YouTube campus with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun she had legally purchased. Aghdam turned the gun on herself before police found her, they said.

“There’s absolutely no link or relationship that we’ve identified between our suspect and anybody who was at the scene at the time of the incident,” Barberini said at a news briefing Wednesday.

[ Woman with gun opened fire at YouTube, wounding three before killing herself, officials say ]

Barberini said Aghdam, who had been reported missing on Monday, visited a local gun range the morning of the shooting. Before that happened, police in Mountain View, Calif., said they encountered Aghdam sleeping in her car there early Tuesday morning, just hours before the gunfire at YouTube’s offices. Mountain View, home to Google, YouTube’s owner, is located about 25 miles south of San Bruno.

Aghdam’s relatives have said that they warned police that Aghdam, an active YouTube user, had expressed frustration with the company.

The Mountain View police said in a statement Tuesday that Aghdam never mentioned YouTube to the officers, did not discuss harming herself or anyone else and they had no reason to detain her.

“Throughout our entire interaction with her, she was calm and cooperative,” the Mountain View police statement said. “At the conclusion of our interaction with her, she in no way met any reason for us to speak with her further or possibly detain her.”

According to the Mountain View police, they spoke to Aghdam’s father and brother, but neither of them mentioned “anything about potential acts of violence or a possibility of Aghdam lashing out as a result of her issues with her videos.”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday about whether the company had been contacted by police or any authorities about Aghdam.

The attack in San Bruno marked the latest burst of gun violence to transform a seemingly safe space into a chaotic scene of bloodshed and fear, and it came as the country’s debate over firearms and public safety remains fraught in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre.

The violence began about 12:45 p.m. in a courtyard outside the company’s headquarters, just south of San Francisco. Witnesses described seeing a woman shooting a gun in the courtyard as others ran for their lives.

Police in San Bruno said they were called at 12:46 p.m. on Tuesday about gunfire and, after arriving two minutes later, found three people who had been shot and injured. A fourth person was also taken to the hospital after injuring an ankle while fleeing.

Two people injured in the shooting were released from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Tuesday night, according to a spokesman. A third patient — a man in his 30s — was in serious condition Wednesday morning.

Aghdam appeared to be an active user of YouTube who had posted videos about veganism, fitness and animal cruelty. Channels believed to be linked to her were published in English, Farsi and Turkish, and each had several thousand subscribers; all were taken down by late Tuesday.

In videos and written posts on a website that appeared to be hers, she said that YouTube was discriminating against her and filtering her videos to keep them from getting views. One post said that “you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system.”

According to Aghdam’s father, she had told relatives recently that YouTube was censoring her videos and stopped paying her for them, the Bay Area News Group reported. “She was angry,” he said. He also said he had told police she might be going to YouTube because she “hated” the company.

Her brother told KGTV, a television station in San Diego, that he warned police “she might do something” after learning Agdham had traveled to the Bay Area.

In its statement, the Mountain View police said that after they found Agdham, they called and spoke with her father and brother.

“At no point during that conversation did either Aghdam’s father or brother make any statements regarding the woman’s potential threat to, or a possible attack on, the YouTube campus,” police said. “Also, there was no indication from either Aghdam or her family that she may have been in possession of any weapons.”

The family called back an hour later to say that Agdham had become upset with YouTube, which may have been the reason she was in the area, police said. The police statement said that Aghdam’s father “did not seem concerned that she was in the area, and wanted to simply let us know that may have been a reason for her move up here.”

Barberini, the San Bruno police chief, said his investigators were not aware of what information was relayed and to whom.

“I don’t know what concerns were conveyed to that police department or how or where those concerns were relayed to,” Barberini told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday morning.

The YouTube shooting is unusual in that most acts of mass violence are carried out by men. An FBI examination of active shootings between 2000 and 2013 looked at 160 attacks and found that just six involved female shooters. A recent Secret Service study of mass violence last year in the United States found that there were 28 such violent incidents — including the shooting rampages in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Tex. — and all were carried out by men.

The gunfire on Tuesday set off panic around the offices of YouTube, San Bruno’s biggest employer, which has been in the process of expanding its space for years. Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s chief executive, posted on Twitter: “We will come together to heal as a family.”

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, said in a statement that he was “grateful to everyone inside and outside the company for the outpouring of support and best wishes.”

“I know a lot of you are in shock right now,” he said. “Over the coming days, we will continue to provide support to help everyone in our Google family heal from this unimaginable tragedy.”

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