Questions Being Raised On How Shooter Got Into YouTube's Building

Apr 4, 2018
Originally published on April 5, 2018 12:50 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're learning more about the woman who opened fire yesterday at YouTube's headquarters in the town of San Bruno just south of San Francisco. She wounded three people before killing herself. Authorities say she may have targeted the video-sharing company because she didn't like its policies towards contributors. NPR's Nathan Rott joins us now from San Bruno. And, Nate, first tell us a little more about the shooter, her name and why police think she did this.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Well, so authorities think she did it because she was mad at YouTube. Granted, it's still early in their investigation, but the San Bruno Police Department say they haven't found any relationship between the shooter, who's been identified as 39-year-old Nasim Aghdam and any of the victims. They don't know if that means she was just shooting randomly at people. Now, remember, this happened in an open courtyard at YouTube's headquarters during lunch. So there were a lot of people outside eating.

CORNISH: What is leading to the thinking that she acted out of anger at YouTube?

ROTT: Well, there's a couple of reasons. For one, Aghdam was a prolific social media user. After the shooting, YouTube took down her videos, and some of her other social media sites have been removed, which typically happens after most of these shootings to shooters' profiles. There is a website still up, though, that appears to be associated with her. It links to many of her videos, which range from animal rights to veganism to just eclectic dance videos. And it mentions in a few places on the website frustrations with YouTube and what she perceived as censoring of her content.

Aghdam's father also told police before the attack that YouTube had recently done something to her videos making her upset, though authorities say he did not indicate that she was a threat to herself or others.

CORNISH: This was before the attack, so why was the family speaking with the police?

ROTT: Well, so Aghdam's family reported her as missing in Southern California a couple of days ago. In the early morning hours the day of the shooting, a police unit in the Bay Area, which is about a half-hour south of YouTube's headquarters, found her sleeping in her car. That police unit says she did not act suspiciously or appear to be a threat. They talked to her for 20 minutes. They called her family to report that they had found her after. And in a later conversation, Aghdam's father mentioned that she was upset with YouTube, which might be why she was up there. He did not seem worried, though, the police say, so they had no reason to suspect anything.

A couple of public radio reporters from our member stations KVCR and KPCC have been at the parents' house today in Southern California, and they said that the authorities were there. Aghdam's mother was crying, and her brother told one of the reporters that he did not know she owned a gun. Family and friends at that house also told our colleagues that Aghdam blamed YouTube for all of the troubles in her life.

CORNISH: Nate, you mentioned that the shooting happened in an open courtyard at YouTube headquarters. What are people saying about security there?

ROTT: So not many people at - from YouTube are talking right now, but a lot of these tech companies have these sort of open-style campuses like YouTube's. And reporters talk - today asked San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini if there should have been more security on site. Let's hear from him.

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ED BARBERINI: From a law enforcement perspective, which is probably a little biased, we're always looking for opportunities to harden targets or making environments as safe as possible for folks that work there. But we understand that that has to be measured with other concerns and interests.

ROTT: Now, Barberini did say that they had worked with YouTube on active shooter training and that they would assess what security could have done in this situation.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Nate Rott in San Bruno, Calif. Thank you.

ROTT: Yeah, thank you, Audie.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONMA'S "BREAKFAST") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.