Police: Shooter had no personal connection to YouTube victims
SAN BRUNO, Calif. (KTVU and AP) - YouTube shooter Nasim Aghdam had no personal connection to anyone at YouTube, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said in an interview with Fox News Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile two of the victims, a 32-year-old woman and a 27-year-old woman were released from San Francisco General Hospital. A 36-year-old man remains in serious condition.
Barberini said there is no indication to suggest that Aghdam had any personal relationship with any of the victims. Witnesses previously told KTVU that one of the victim's was Aghdam's boyfriend. Police Wednesday said they had heard the same information but that it had not been substantiated.
Investigators do not believe Nasim Aghdam specifically targeted the three victims when she pulled out a handgun and fired off several rounds in a courtyard at the company's headquarters. Police say she entered the courtyard through a parking garage.
Police said Aghdam had legally purchased a 9 millimeter Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun. The gun was registered in her name. San Bruno Police also said that she had visited a local gun range Tuesday morning prior to her arrival at YouTube.
Law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that Aghdam had a longstanding dispute with the company. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, said Aghdam used the name "Nasime Sabz" online.
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!!!!!"
Aghdam "hated" YouTube and was angry that the company stopped paying her for videos she posted on the platform, her father, Ismail Aghdam, told the Bay Area News Group.
On Monday, he called police to report his daughter missing after she didn't answer the phone for two days and warned officers that she might go to YouTube, he said.
Officers in Mountain View - about 30 miles 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 didn't appear to be a threat to herself or others, police spokeswoman Katie Nelson said.
According to Mountain View Police, a short time after their interaction with Aghdam police called her family to let them know she had been located. At no point during that conversation did either Aghdam’s father or brother make any statements regarding the woman’s potential threat to, or a possible attack on, the YouTube campus. Also, there was no indication from either Aghdam or her family that she may have been in possession of any weapons. "Roughly one hour after our phone call to Aghdam’s family, her father called us back to let us know that she made a series of vegan videos for her channel on YouTube and that the company had recently done something to her videos that had caused her to become upset. Aghdam’s father stated that she may have been in the area because of this. 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."
Earlier Tuesday, law enforcement said the shooting was being investigated as a domestic dispute but did not elaborate. It was not immediately clear why police later said the people shot were not specifically targeted.
YouTube employee Dianna Arnspiger said she was on the building's second floor when she heard gunshots, ran to a window and saw the shooter on a patio outside.
"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 website is owned by Silicon Valley giant Google, but company officials said it's a tight-knit community. 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 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 on the campus 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 where he saw the shooter 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.
Officers discovered one victim with a gunshot wound when they arrived and then found the shooter with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound several minutes later, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said. He said two additional gunshot victims were later located at an adjacent business.
Balsamo reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Sudhin Thanawala, Janie Har and Juliet Williams in San Francisco and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.