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One day after a shooter opened fire at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, wounding three people before killing herself, the company is planning new security at its offices.
YouTube on Wednesday said that it “will be increasing the security we have at all of our offices worldwide to make them more secure not only in the near-term, but long-term.”
New details also are emerging about the shooter, Nasim Aghdam, and the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident. Hours before Aghdam would open fire during lunchtime at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, police found her sleeping in her car some 30 miles south in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday, officers patrolling the community of Mountain View, a suburban town that serves as the headquarters of search giant Google and software firm Symantec, spotted Aghdam’s car in a parking lot not far from a Whole Foods and 24 Hour Fitness. The license plate belonged to the San Diego woman, who had been reported missing a few days earlier.
After police woke Aghdam, she told them that she had decided to leave her home due to family issues. “She stated she had come to the area to stay with family and while she was currently living out of her vehicle, she was in the process of looking for a job,” the Mountain View Police Department said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. After 20 minutes of questioning, they determined that she was not a danger to herself or others and took their leave. They then telephoned her family, speaking to both her father and brother, to let them know that she was safe.
The father called back an hour later to let the officers know that Aghdam, who had amassed a small following on YouTube for her videos about fitness and veganism, was upset with the streaming platform. “He 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,” police stated.
By 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aghdam was dead and three other people, a man and two women, were being rushed to San Francisco General Hospital with gunshot wounds. Now, some 24 hours later, statements from police and messages posted to the shooter’s own website and social media accounts have begun to paint a picture about what may have driven her to lash out against YouTube.
Aghdam, 39, went by the name Nasime Sabz on social media. She operated multiple YouTube accounts where she posted videos in English, Farsi and Turkish. Many of them showed her exercising, extolling the benefits of fruits and vegetables and advocating for a vegan lifestyle. On her website, she called herself the creator of “the very first Persian vegan TV commercial and vegan music video.”
But she was also critical of Google-owned YouTube, using her website to claim that the world’s largest video streaming platform had censored her and prevented her channels from racking up views. One video, she wrote, was age-restricted by “close-minded” YouTube employees who wanted to “suppress” and discourage her from posting videos.
After police found her on Tuesday morning, Aghdam went to a local gun range, according to San Bruno police chief Ed Barberini. She then drove to a retail area near YouTube headquarters, parked her car and walked into a courtyard on the campus. By 12:46 p.m., San Bruno PD began to receive multiple 911 calls reporting that there was a shooter at YouTube. When they arrived two minutes later, they found employees fleeing the area. A victim with what appeared to be a gunshot wound “to a lower extremity” was in front of the building. YouTube said that Aghdam entered its campus through a parking garage, but “she never entered the building itself.”
Aghdam was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Two other victims with gunshot wounds had fled to a nearby business. A semiautomatic handgun registered to Aghdam was found at the scene.
Some employees returned to the building to help first responders gain access to the facility, YouTube revealed Wednesday. Others stayed behind “to tend to the wounded or to give officers directions and provide details about the shooter that proved critical,” the company said.
Barberini described the scene as “hectic.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote on Twitter, “There are no words to describe the tragedy that occurred today.” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also tweeted that YouTube “will come together to heal as a family.”
Police have said Aghdam was likely motivated over anger about YouTube’s policies and practices. By Tuesday night, all of Aghdam’s social media accounts on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram had been taken down.
YouTube is calling the incident a “horrific act of violence” that “was deeply shocking and disturbing to our YouTube Family.” The company added, “Our employees have been encouraged to take time off of work, or work from home and we are making sure wellness services are readily available.”