San Bruno (California): A woman with a handgun shot three people at YouTube’s headquarters in California over the video sharing platform’s “discriminatory” treatment to her postings. She later killed herself.
The San Bruno Police Department said that the attacker, 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam, a Californian resident of Iranian descent, opened fire in a courtyard at YouTube’s offices in San Bruno on Tuesday.
While the police did not provide a possible motive, Aghdam had alleged that YouTube was filtering her videos and reducing the money she could make, the US media reported.
On Wednesday, the police were still trying to put together Aghdam’s activity in the days leading up to the shooting. Her family reported her missing on March 31 in San Diego and she was located by another police department before the shooting, about 30 miles south of YouTube’s headquarters, the New York Times reported.
The violence began about 12.45 p.m. in a courtyard outside the company’s headquarters. Witnesses described seeing a woman shooting a gun in the courtyard as others ran for their lives.
Several YouTube employees tweeted about the attack as it was taking place. Product manager Todd Sherman said people fled the building in panic as the shooting unfolded.
Some ran while others hid when the gunshots rang out. Senior software engineer Zach Voorhies bolted when the fire alarm blared.
“I went outside with my electric skateboard and I started skating down, because I thought it was a fire,” he told CNN affiliate KPIX. “I heard some yelling and I saw somebody down on his back with a red spot on his stomach.”
As they fled the building, he said, the shooter was yelling, “Come at me, or come get me!”
The female attacker took her own life after the shootings, said police.
The attacker’s father Ismail Aghdam told the Bay Area News Group that she told her family in recent weeks that she “hated” YouTube because it was censoring her videos and paying her less. “She was angry,” he said.
On the website and in YouTube videos, Aghdam discussed Persian culture, veganism and animal cruelty, performed music parodies and gave exercise tutorials. She had YouTube pages in Persian, Turkish and English.
Her personal website included graphic photos of slaughtered animals and pleas not to wear fur jackets or have sex outside of marriage. She also focused on what she perceived as “discrimination” by YouTube and Google.
Her brother told KGTV, a television station in San Diego, that he warned police “she might do something” after learning Agdham had travelled to the Bay Area.
By Tuesday night, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook took down her pages and videos. San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said that investigators were aware of Aghdam’s criticism of YouTube and Google.
Authorities gave conflicting accounts of whether Aghdam knew any of her three victims — one man and two women — who were hospitalized with injuries.
Shortly after the shooting, two law enforcement officials told CNN the shooter knew at least one victim. But later, they said they had no evidence Aghdam knew any of the victims.
Google, the parent company of YouTube, said it was cooperating with law enforcement. Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a message to employees following the shooting, saying: “I know a lot of you are in shock right now… Over the coming days, we will continue to provide support to help everyone in our Google family heal from this unimaginable tragedy.”