World

Police work on theory YouTube shooter motivated by grudge against company

Police in San Bruno, Calif., said Wednesday they are working with YouTube to investigate how a woman who was not an employee of the company was able to enter a courtyard and shoot and injure three people before fatally shooting herself.

Nasim Aghdam, 39, of San Diego visited a local shooting range before firing weapon on YouTube campus

Law enforcement officials walk toward YouTube offices in San Bruno, Calif., on Tuesday after the shooting. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Police in San Bruno, Calif., said Wednesday they are working with YouTube to investigate how a woman who was not an employee of the company was able to enter a courtyard and shoot and injure three people before fatally shooting herself.

Police identified the shooter as 39-year-old Nasim Aghdam of San Diego, and said they have reason to believe others were involved in planning the shooting.

Ed Barberini, chief of San Bruno police, said at a new conference that Aghdam visited a local gun range Tuesday before the noon-hour shooting, although he wasn't prepared to name that company. Barberini said Aghdam used a legally owned 9-mm pistol, although he didn't know when the suspect purchased the weapon.

The police chief echoed earlier comments from Aghdam's father, who indicated she was "upset at policies and practices of YouTube." 
The woman police suspect of opening opening fire at YouTube headquarters Tuesday, was angry at the company because it had stopped paying her for videos she posted, her father said. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

However, Barberini said police were still processing Nasim Aghdam's car and searching two residences in Southern California, as well as going over her social media posts and online presence, to more fully understand her possible motive.

Ginger Colbrun, spokesperson for U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, confirmed separately that the ATF was searching two homes where Aghdam had lived but would not confirm the locations.

Reporters on Wednesday saw agents entering homes in the communities of Menifee, about 128 kilometres southeast of Los Angeles, and 4S Ranch, about 40 kilometres north of San Diego.

Ismail Aghdam had told the Bay Area News Group that YouTube had "stopped everything," and his daughter "was angry."

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

Aghdam's online profile shows she was a vegan activist who ran a website called NasimeSabz.com, meaning "Green Breeze" in Persian, where she posted about Persian culture and veganism, as well as long passages critical of YouTube.

A screenshot of a video posted on Aghdam's YouTube channel before it was taken down on Tuesday, showed her complaining that "YouTube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!"

YouTube spokesperson Jessica Mason could not immediately be reached for comment.

Police said Aghdam accessed the campus through a parking garage before shooting in a campus courtyard. There was no indication she deliberated over the people she would shoot, and police had no information to indicate she said anything to witnesses or victims before firing.

Suspect thought to have shot victims indiscriminately 1:52

Two women wounded in the shooting have been released from hospital.

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital said Wednesday that a third person, a 36-year-old man, remains hospitalized in serious condition, which was upgraded from critical.

A 32-year-old woman was brought to the hospital in serious condition and a 27-year-old woman was taken there in fair condition on Tuesday.

Police interaction 10 hours earlier

Ismail Aghdam said he reported his daughter missing on Monday after she did not answer her phone for two days.

He said the family received a call from Mountain View police around 2 a.m. Tuesday saying they found Nasim sleeping in a car.

He said he warned them she might be headed to YouTube because she "hated" the company.

Officers in Mountain View — about 48 kilometres from YouTube's headquarters — found her sleeping in her car in a parking lot around 2 a.m. Tuesday, but let her go after she refused to answer their questions. Aghdam did not appear to be a threat to herself or others, police spokesperson Katie Nelson said.

Mountain View police said in a statement Wednesday they did not tell San Bruno police about their interactions with the suspect hours before the attack. They had no indication from Nasim Aghdam that she could be violent and no information from her father indicating that would be a possibility, police in Mountain View said.

That contradicts a claim made by her father to reporters that he had warned authorities that she might be planning to go to the Bay Area and that she might travel to YouTube's offices.

Workers walk down a street near the YouTube complex in San Bruno, Calif., on Tuesday after the shooting. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

Barberini said San Bruno police had no interactions with Aghdam prior to the shooting.

First responders arrived at YouTube at 12:48 p.m. local time, he said, two minutes after numerous 911 calls began to pour in.

San Bruno Mayor Rico Medina commended law enforcement and said the city extends its sympathies to YouTube.

Barberini praised the company for an orderly evacuation and quickly organizing services for shocked employees.

"Today it feels like the entire community of YouTube, all of the employees, were victims of this crime," said Chris Dale, a spokesperson for YouTube.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a tweet that the company would "come together to heal as a family."

With files from Reuters