YouTube HQ shooting: Police reveal identity of female shooter

A shooting carried out at YouTube’s headquarters in Silicon Valley has left three people injured – one critically – and a female suspect dead in what authorities are reporting as a suicide.

YouTube HQ shooting: Police reveal identity of female shooter

The San Bruno Police Department has identified the suspect as Nasim Najafi Aghdam, a 39-year-old woman from San Diego. Her motivations for entering YouTube’s HQ with a handgun and opening fire were not made public, but reports have surfaced about Aghdam’s own YouTube videos, and her criticism of the company’s demonetisation and filtering policies.

“YouTube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!” a section on Aghdam’s website reads, blaming “close-minded youtube employees” for rolling out restrictions on her Farsi-language videos. Aghdam describes herself as a vegan, and the website contains links to several videos about vegan activism, alongside graphic videos of animals being killed and clips about YouTube’s demonetisation strategies. Earlier this year, YouTube announced several changes to advertising on its platform, tightening rules for creators with fewer than 1,000 subscribers. 

Three people with gunshot wounds are being treated at San Francisco General hospital, including a 36-year-old man in critical condition, and a 32-year-old woman in serious condition. A fourth victim sustained injuries not related to a gunshot, although the police gave no word on whether this person was being treated.

Just before 1pm, local time, YouTube employee Vadim Lavrusik tweeted about an “active shooter at YouTube HQ”, claiming he “heard shots and saw people running” while at his desk before barricading himself inside a room with coworkers. Soon after, Lavrusik tweeted that he had been safely evacuated, but the Twitter account was subsequently hacked and – until control was regained – spread disinformation about the shooting.

Disinformation on Twitter spread elsewhere, prompting the company’s chief Jack Dorsey to tweet that he was “aware of the misinformation being spread” on his platform. “We’re tracking, learning, and taking action. We‘re working diligently on product solutions to help.”    

Several reports have focused on the rarity of the shooter’s gender. An FBI study of 160 “active shooter incidents” between 2000 and 2013 found only six incidents, amounting to 3.8%, were carried out by a female attacker.

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of YouTube’s parent company, Google, wrote in a letter to staff that the incident was an “unimaginable tragedy”, and that the company will work to support the victims and their families.

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