Friday 20 April 2018

YouTube shooting: Attacker was vegan activist who accused tech firm of discrimination

  • Female suspect identified by police
  • Three wounded and attacker dead
  • Father of suspected shooter says he 'warned police'
  • Woman has posted complaints about YouTube online
Police have identified the shooting suspect as 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam.
Police have identified the shooting suspect as 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam.
The scenes following a possible shooting at the headquarters of YouTube in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. GRAEME MACDONALD/via REUTERS
The scene following a possible shooting at the headquarters of YouTube in San Bruno, California, U.S., April 3, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. GRAEME MACDONALD/via REUTERS
In this file photo taken on May 26, 2010 YouTube headquaters is pictured in San Bruno, California. The San Bruno police department on April 3, 2018, has received several 911 calls about an active shooter at YouTube Headquarters, according to media reports. / AFP PHOTO / Gabriel BOUYSGABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The woman identified by police as the attacker who wounded three people at YouTube's headquarters in California was a vegan blogger who accused the video-sharing service of discriminating against her, according to her online profile.

Police said 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam from San Diego was behind Tuesday's shooting at YouTube's offices in Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, where the company owned by Alphabet Inc's Google employs nearly 2,000 people.

A man was in critical condition and two women were seriously wounded in the attack, which ended when Aghdam shot and killed herself.

"The San Bruno Police Department is investigating a motive for this shooting. At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted," police said in a statement.

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 Aghnam'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 spokeswoman Jessica Mason could not immediately be reached for comment.

The incident was the latest in a string of mass shootings in the United States in recent years. Most recently, the massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school has led to calls for tighter curbs on gun ownership.

Police have identified the shooting suspect as 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam.
Police have identified the shooting suspect as 39-year-old Nasim Najafi Aghdam.

Police say they are still searching for a motive for Tuesday's shooting at YouTube, a video-sharing service owned by Alphabet Inc's Google which employs nearly 2,000 people at the San Bruno, California offices.

The woman's father  Ismail Aghdam told the Bay area News Group that he had warned police his daughter might be heading to YouTube as she "hated" the company.

Around lunchtime the shooter approached an outdoor patio and dining courtyard on the campus and began to fire before entering the building, police said.

The website NasimeSabz.com, which media said was linked to the attacker, had several posts about Persian culture and veganism, interspersed with screeds against YouTube.

Those complaints included claims the company was not sharing enough revenue with people who create videos for the platform.

"There is no equal growth opportunity on YouTube, or any other video-sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to," read one posting on the site.

A YouTube account in the name of Nasime Sabz was deleted on Tuesday evening.

A US government security official told Reuters there was no known connection to terrorism.

A YouTube product manager, Todd Sherman, described on Twitter hearing people running, first thinking it was an earthquake before he was told that a person had a gun.

"At that point every new person I saw was a potential shooter. Someone else said that the person shot out the back doors and then shot themselves," Sherman said in a tweet.

"I looked down and saw blood drips on the floor and stairs. Peeked around for threats and then we headed downstairs, and out the front," Sherman said.

In a recording of a 911 call posted online by the Los Angeles Times, a dispatcher can be heard saying: "Shooter. Another party said they spotted someone with a gun. Suspect came from the back patio ... Again we have a report of a subject with a gun. They heard seven or eight shots being fired."

Dozens of emergency vehicles quickly converged on the YouTube campus, and police could be seen on televised aerial video systematically frisking several employees leaving the area with their hands raised.

One victim, a 36-year-old man, was listed in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital. A 32-year-old woman was listed in serious condition and a 27-year-old woman in fair condition. Authorities did not release names of the victims.

The three patients taken to San Francisco General Hospital were all awake, Dr Andre Campbell, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, told a news conference. All were victims of gunshot wounds, Campbell said, but none of them had undergone surgery.

A fourth person was taken to a local hospital with an ankle injury from fleeing the scene.

"It's with great sadness that I tell you - based on the latest information - four people were injured in this horrific act of violence," Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in letter to employees posted on Twitter.

"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."

In a separate tweet, Pichai said he and YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki were "focused on supporting our employees and the @YouTube community through this difficult time together."

President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he had been briefed on the shooting.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved," Trump tweeted. "Thank you to our phenomenal law enforcement officers and first responders that are currently on the scene."

In response, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey tweeted: "We can’t keep being reactive to this, thinking and praying it won’t happen again at our schools, jobs, or our community spots. It’s beyond time to evolve our policies."

Last month, YouTube announced it would ban content promoting the sale of guns and gun accessories, as well as videos that teach how to make guns.

Female mass shooters are rare. A recent Washington Post analysis shows only three of 150 US shootings with more than four victims since 1966 were carried out by women. In 2015, a husband and wife killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

Reuters

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