A woman who opened fire on unsuspecting employees at YouTube’s headquarters yesterday has been identified as Nasim Najafi Aghdam, a 39-year-old resident of San Diego, California, according to authorities. Aghdam was apparently nursing a grudge against the online video portal for what she says was the stifling of the growth of her video channel.
The woman was reported missing from her family’s home in San Diego since Saturday, authorities said. Her car was subsequently found 700 miles away in Mountain View, California, about 30 miles south of San Bruno, California. YouTube’s headquarters is located in San Bruno.
The assailant’s family also said Aghdam had stopped answering her phone. The victim’s brother, who declined to be identified, said that he called the police to warn them of a possible incident. “I Googled ‘Mountain View,’ and it was close to YouTube headquarters. And she had a problem with YouTube,” he said. He called the police and said, “she went all the way from San Diego, so she might do something.”
San Bruno police Chief Ed Barberini said this morning that the shooting, as well as any possible communication with police, was under investigation. “We know that she was reported missing by her family in San Diego on the 31st of March, and that she was located in a community about 30 miles south of us early Tuesday morning,” he said. “I don’t know what concerns were conveyed to that police department, or how or where those concerns were relayed to. So that is something we’re looking into.”
Barberini told reporters yesterday that an assailant opened fire inside the building, injuring three people and then taking their own life. Aghdam died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to authorities she killed herself with a handgun.
A 36-year-old man was in critical condition, a 32-year-old woman was in serious condition and a 27-year-old woman was in fair condition at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital according to a spokesman. Zuckerberg is a level 1 trauma center.
A website believed to be operated by Aghdam lists four YouTube channels: one in Farsi, one in Turkish, one in English and one devoted to hand art. Aghdam’s gripe against YouTube appears to be focused on the lack of growth of her channels. “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!” one post reads. “Youtube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!” she wrote in another post.
The gunfire reportedly began before 1 p.m. on Tuesday in the courtyard of the building. As employees were fleeing the headquarters, they reported hearing the assailant yelling, “Come at me, or come get me!”
One YouTube employee, Vadim Lavrusik, tweeted while the shooting was ongoing. “Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers,” he wrote.
He would later tweet when he got to safety. “Safe. Got evacuated it. Outside now,” he wrote.
More than 1,100 people work at the YouTube office in San Bruno. Employees based there include engineers that work on site infrastructure and sales teams that work with both advertisers and content creators.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a message to employees following the shooting. “I know a lot of you are in shock right now,” Pichai said. “Over the coming days, we will continue to provide support to help everyone in our Google family heal from this unimaginable tragedy.” YouTube is owned by Google.