Yesterday, a shooter entered the YouTube headquarters in California and began shooting at employees, leaving three people injured with gunshot wounds. Now an image of the tragedy and the suspect behind it is emerging. Here are the facts that have come to light so far.
Around lunchtime, on Tuesday, April 3, employees at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, began reporting shots in the building. Several employees called 911, and others tweeted about the shooting, including Vadim Lavrusik, whose message was widely cited in the first reports.
Three people are being treated for gunshot wounds
A report from the San Bruno police says agents arrived at the site a few minutes after receiving calls about the shooting. YouTube employees were evacuating the building, and police found a person with an apparent bullet wound, while two others, also injured, had already left the campus. These three people were taken to the hospital, and until yesterday, one was in good condition, another in serious condition and a third in critical condition. A fourth person was treated for a twisted ankle, possibly sustained while escaping from the building.
Inside the building, police found a deceased woman who was identified as Nasim Aghdam, a 39-year-old woman from San Diego who apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The reason of the shooter
Early reports suggested that the attack had been committed by a woman trying to shoot her boyfriend. But San Bruno police said they had no evidence that the shooter knew any of his victims or was targeting a specific person.
There was, however, evidence that Aghdam had a longstanding resentment against YouTube. His father, Ismail Aghdam, reportedly reported his disappearance the night before the shooting and told police he could go to YouTube, a company he "hated." Later, police found Aghdam sleeping in his car in Mountain View, California. Ismail Aghdam told The Mercury News that his daughter had complained to the family that YouTube had "censored" and demonetized her videos.
His brother Shahran Aghdam said he "always complained that YouTube ruined his life." He also said he warned police he could "do something" at the company's headquarters, after learning he had driven to Mountain View and discovered that the YouTube campus was located there.
Aghdam complained about YouTube online
He regularly published videos about veganism and animal rights and claimed that YouTube was deliberately filtering and demonetizing his work to prevent him from obtaining opinions. "There is no freedom of expression in the real world [and] you will be repressed for telling the truth that it is not compatible with the system," he wrote on a personal website. "There are no equal growth opportunities on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if you want [it] to !!!!!"
This is an extreme version of a claim made by many YouTube users. Users across the political spectrum have alleged that YouTube pulled ads on videos that did not violate their monetization terms, or leaked videos to make them harder to find. Recently, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the conservative organization PragerU, which said YouTube had discriminated against its videos. And the creators protested the decision of January to monetize channels with a certain number of subscribers and viewing hours, which limits the options of smaller or newer channels. Obviously, however, this is a peaceful criticism of the site, nothing equivalent to the shooting of Aghdam.
Deceptions and conspiracies
Misinformation began to spread immediately after the shooting. Shortly after Lavrusik reported safely on Twitter, a cheater hacked into his account and started posting fake messages, including one that asked readers to "find their friend" with a picture of the popular YouTuber Keemstar. Lavrusik has since recovered his account.
Misinformation began to spread immediately after the shooting
The forgers also began to circulate false claims that are made after many shots, including accusations that comedian Sam Hyde was the shooter. They made a series of other false accusations against several YouTube users, as well as BuzzFeed reporter Jane Lytvynenko, who had been discrediting the scams.
Like most shootings, this attack has predictably generated claims that it was a "false flag" operation designed to demonize gun owners. A previous report said the shooter wore a headscarf, which led to some online speculation, including a tweet from Gateway Pundit reporter Lucian Wintrich that she could be Muslim. There is no evidence of this so far.
Notably, we have not seen a lot of hoaxes and conspiracy material promoted by platforms like Facebook and Google search, although one video did it in Facebook search results. This obviously could change, but it remains a significant contrast to what happened after the February shooting in Parkland, when, among other things, a video that claimed that students were "crisis actors" tended to be a trend on YouTube.
Silicon Valley and the YouTube community responds
After the attack, the main technology companies and executives expressed their condolences to the victims, including the YouTube executive director, Susan Wojcicki.
There are no words to describe how horrible it was to have an active shooter on YouTube today. Our deepest gratitude to the forces of order and the first to respond for their rapid response. Our hearts are with all the injured and impacted today. We will meet to heal ourselves as a family. Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) April 4, 2018
Google's corporate Twitter account shared a note from Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
Pichai also acknowledged the tragedy in his personal account.
There are no words to describe the tragedy that happened today. @SusanWojcicki and I are focused on supporting our employees and the @YouTube community through this difficult time together. Thanks to the police and the first to respond for their efforts, and to all for the messages of support. Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) April 3, 2018
The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, shared his condolences and acknowledged that the platform was being used to share scams. Minutes after the shooting, a hacker took over the Twitter account of a YouTube administrator to spread misinformation.
We are also aware that the misinformation is disseminated on Twitter. We are tracking, learning and taking action. We are working diligently on product solutions to help. https://t.co/V8vmxgFkmR- jack (@jack) April 3, 2018
The CEO of Twitter, Omid Kordestani also shared his thoughts.
Like the Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos.
Horrible and truly tragic day for YouTube and Google. We wish the best for the injured and all those affected. Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) April 3, 2018
And Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.
On behalf of everyone at Apple, we send our sympathy and support to the YouTube team and Google, especially the victims and their families. Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 3, 2018
Followed by Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft.
On behalf of all of Microsoft, our hearts are with everyone on YouTube and Google today and everyone affected. https://t.co/dijMxGXGpD- Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) April 4, 2018
The YouTube community also responded to the shooting, and some of the platform's biggest and most visible creators expressed their surprise.
Casey Neistat posted a live news channel from YouTube headquarters.
anxious. worried. Feeling sick. waiting for the best for everyone effected. Here is a live news bulletin from San Bruno – https://t.co/G08h464WV6- Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) April 3, 2018
Lilly Singh retweeted Wojcicki's tweet.
And Philip DeFranco made a connection between the attack and the shooter's videos in which he accused the platform of suppressing his videos.
The shooter of the YouTube HQ has been identified (he will not name or show his face for the shit). It seems I was angry with YouTube. She claimed that her videos were being unfairly restricted by age and accused YouTube of deleting her videos. I am disgusted, angry and heartbroken. Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) April 4, 2018
Jake Paul posted a reaction video shortly after the shooting in which he says he is "devastated, I am angry, I am angry, I am confused".
As the story unfolds, we will continue to update this page with verified information about the shooting.