YouTube Shooter: What We Know - Rolling Stone
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YouTube Shooter: What We Know

Nasim Aghdam opened fire at YouTube headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, leaving four injured

On Tuesday afternoon, a woman attacked YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, shooting three people with a handgun before killing herself.

Authorities identified the alleged shooter as Nasim Aghdam, a 38-year-old San Diego resident, according to The New York Times.

A spokesperson for Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, said at a news conference that the Level 1 Trauma center received a 27-year-old woman in fair condition, a 32-year-old woman in serious condition, and a 36-year-old man in critical condition. A fourth person was treated for an ankle injury that was not caused by a gunshot.

Here, what we know about the shooter that struck fear into the tech community.

Nasim Aghdam

Nasim Aghdam claimed that YouTube censored her content
Nasim Aghdam, who would have turned 39 on April 4th, had numerous social media accounts, including YouTube channels in Farsi, Turkish and English, according to the Los Angeles Times. On YouTube, she posted videos on various subjects, ranging from animal cruelty to veganism to exercise. (According to PETA, she had appeared at animal rights demonstrations nine years ago, but had since “changed her phone number and dropped out of sight.) 

In February 2017, she uploaded a video on Facebook that criticized YouTube for censoring one of her workout videos, saying the site’s support staff told her the footage was inappropriate for younger audiences, according to NBC Bay Area.

“…Many singers like Nicki Minaj and Miley [Cyrus] and many others have sensual scenes so inappropriate for children to watch that don’t get restricted,” Aghdam said in the video. “But my videos – my workout video – gets age restricted. This is what they are doing to weekend activists and many other people who try to promote healthy, humane, and smart living – people like me are not good for big business like for animal business, medicine business and for many other businesses. That’s why they are discriminating and censoring us.”

YouTube and Facebook have terminated her accounts. Still, her personal website carries her message: “There is no equal growth opportunity on YouTube or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!”

Nasim Aghdam’s father told police she “hated” YouTube, and her brother said he warned police she might “do something” 
Two weeks ago, Nasim Aghdam told her family that YouTube censored her videos and stopped paying her for posts. “She was angry,” Nasim’s father, Ismail Aghdam, told The Mercury Times. Ismail said that he reported his daughter missing on Monday and that he told police that she might go to the YouTube headquarters because she “hated” the company. At 2 a.m. PST on Tuesday, police called Ismail and told him that they found Nasim sleeping in her car in Mountain View, a city roughly 25 miles south of San Bruno. Ismail said that the officers told him that they had her “under control.” In an interview with San Diego’s ABC affiliate, Aghdam’s brother, who was not named, said that once he figured out she was near YouTube headquarters, he told the police that she might be dangerous. “I Googled ‘Mountain View’ and it was close to YouTube headquarters, and she had a problem with YouTube,” he said. “So I called that cop again and told him there’s a reason she went all the way from San Diego to there, so she might do something… They didn’t do anything and she got killed… And three or four more people got hurt.”

Nasim Aghdam shot herself to death
In a report from CNN, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini told reporters that the shooter was found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Law enforcement officials speaking in anonymity told the news outlet that she knew at least one of the victims.

The shooting happened in the YouTube courtyard
San Mateo County dispatchers received the first reports of the shooting just before 1 p.m. PST on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Shooter. Another party said they spotted someone with a gun. Suspect came from the back patio,” the dispatch said, according to recorded scanner traffic posted online by “Address is 901 Cherry Avenue. … Again we have a report of a subject with a gun, they heard seven or eight shots being fired. This would be from the YouTube building.” YouTube later told reporters that the three on-site buildings at 900, 901 and 1000 Cherry Avenue were put on lockdown.

By 5 p.m. PST, Chief Barberini announced that investigators were trying to figure out the shooter’s motive and how she got onto the YouTube property. He said that the shooting took place in a “courtyard area.”

Staff hid in offices
YouTube employee Dianna Arnspiger told ABC that she was on the second floor when she heard gunshots, ran to the window, and saw a woman firing a gun below. Arnspiger said she shouted, “Shooter’ and everybody started running,” and then she hid in a conference room for an hour with her coworkers.

Vadim Lavrusik, a former employee at The New York Times who is now a YouTube product manager, tweeted at 12:57 p.m. PST that there was “an active shooter at YouTube HQ” and that he “heard shots and saw people running while at my desk.” He wrote that he was “barricaded” inside a room with his coworkers. At 1:13 p.m. PST, he tweeted that he had been safely evacuated and was outside of the building.

YouTube employees fled the building
Over 200 YouTube staff were evacuated to a nearby parking lot. Police talked with two dozen witnesses who said they thought the chaotic scene was due to a fire drill and that they ran outside when people began shouting that there was a shooter, according to The New York Times. YouTube senior software engineer Zach Vorhies, 37, told a local ABC affiliate that the fire alarm went off and coworkers were calmly leaving the building as if it were a drill. He picked up his electric skateboard, started toward the back exit and rode down a gravel hill when he saw a bleeding man on the ground. Twenty-five feet away was another man, who shouted, “Come at me!” He did not see that man holding a firearm and thought he had “been taunting the shooter,” he told The New York Times. An armed officer entered the area and he left the patio area, which, he said, could be accessed from a nearby parking lot without an employee badge.

Google weighed in on the shooting
Google, which owns YouTube, took to took to Twitter to say that it was “coordinating with authorities and will provide official information here from Google and YouTube as it becomes available.” Throughout the next hour, Google wrote that its “security team has been working closely with authorities to evacuate the buildings” and advised employees at the San Bruno office to “continue to shelter in place until further notice,” while telling other staff and with people with scheduled meetings to “stay away from the area.”

At 4:49 p.m. PST, Google tweeted a note from its CEO Sundar Pichai, who wrote that he learned of the shooting while his employees were having lunch. “It’s with great sadness that I tell you – based on the latest information – four people were injured in this horrific act of violence.” Chief Barberini initially pointed out that there were four shooting victims, according to The New York Times. The information muddled the fact that at least one person evacuating the building was injured but not shot.

In This Article: YouTube


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