Police: YouTube shooter was calm when found sleeping in car
Investigators do not believe Nasim Aghdam specifically targeted the three victims wounded in the shooting
By Michael Balsamo and Ryan Nakashima
SAN BRUNO, Calif. — Just hours before she shot and wounded three people at YouTube headquarters, Nasim Aghdam calmly told police who found her sleeping in her car that she was having family problems and had left her home.
During the 20-minute interview with officers early Tuesday, she did not mention being angry with YouTube or having accused the company of suppressing her video posts. She gave no indication she was a threat to herself or others.
Later that day, she went to a gun range before walking through a parking garage into a courtyard at YouTube’s campus south of San Francisco, where she fired several rounds with a handgun and wounded three people. She then killed herself.
The sequence of Aghdam’s activities emerged Wednesday as police continued gathering information about the attacker and her motives.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched two Southern California homes where Aghdam had lived. Spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun would not confirm the locations but reporters saw agents entering homes in the communities of Menifee, southeast of Los Angeles, and 4S Ranch, north of San Diego.
Police, meanwhile, visited a gun range not far from the YouTube headquarters.
Investigators do not believe Aghdam, who was in her late 30s, targeted anyone in particular, and there is no reason to believe she illegally obtained the semi-automatic 9mm pistol used in the shooting, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said.
Authorities are still trying to determine whether she got past security measures to enter YouTube headquarters, he said.
Two women wounded in the shooting were released Wednesday from a San Francisco hospital. The third victim, a 36-year-old man, was upgraded from critical to serious condition.
The day before the attack, the shooter’s father, Ismail Aghdam, said he warned police that his daughter was upset with how YouTube handled her videos and might be planning to go to its offices.
Aghdam “hated” YouTube and was angry that the company stopped paying her for videos she posted, Ismail Aghdam told the Bay Area News Group. Her video posts included segments about veganism, animal cruelty and exercise, along with glamor shots of herself.
Police in Mountain View said they spoke to Ismail Aghdam twice after contacting the family to report finding his daughter and that he never told them she could become violent or pose a threat to YouTube employees.
When officers found Nasim Aghdam, she was in her car near a strip mall in Mountain View, about 25 miles from YouTube and home to the company’s owner, Silicon Valley giant Google. She told Mountain View police who spoke to her around 2 a.m. Tuesday that she had come to the area to stay with relatives and was looking for a job, police said.
They let her go, saying there was no indication she needed to be detained.
Nasim Aghdam used the name “Nasime Sabz” online, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the case.
A website in that name decried YouTube’s policies and said the company was trying to “suppress” content creators.
“Youtube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!” one of the messages on the site said. “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!”
People who post on YouTube can receive money from advertisements that accompany their videos, but the company “de-monetizes” some channels for reasons including inappropriate material or having fewer than 1,000 subscribers.
“It was a woman and she was firing her gun. And I just said, ‘Shooter,’ and everybody started running,” Arnspiger said.
She and others hid in a conference room for an hour while another employee repeatedly called 911 for updates.
The world’s biggest online video site is owned by Silicon Valley giant Google. The headquarters has more than a thousand engineers and other employees in several buildings. Originally built in the late 1990s for the clothing retailer Gap, the campus south of San Francisco is known for its sloped green roof of native grasses.
Inside, Google several years ago famously outfitted the office with a 3-lane red slide for workers to zoom from one story to another.
“Today it feels like the entire community of YouTube, all of the employees, were victims of this crime,” said Chris Dale, a spokesman for YouTube.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a tweet that the company would “come together to heal as a family.”
Officers and federal agents responding to multiple 911 calls swarmed the company’s campus sandwiched between two interstates in the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Bruno.
Zach Vorhies, 37, a senior software engineer at YouTube, said he was at his desk working on the second floor of one of the buildings when the fire alarm went off.
He got on his skateboard and approached a courtyard, where he saw the shooter yelling, “Come get me.” He said the public can access the courtyard without any security check during working hours.
There was somebody lying nearby on his back with a red stain on his stomach that appeared to be from a bullet wound.
He said he realized it was an active shooter incident when a police officer with an assault rifle came through a security door. He jumped on his skateboard and took off.