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A day before a woman opened fire at YouTube headquarters, her father said he warned police that his daughter was upset with the company’s handling of her videos and might be planning to go to its offices, where she later wounded three people before killing herself.
Police disputed the father’s statement, saying that officers who talked to Nasim Aghdam before the attack said her family gave no warning she might commit violence.
Authorities also said Aghdam also visited a gun range before she entered a courtyard on Tuesday at YouTube’s main offices south of San Francisco, pulled out a handgun and fired several rounds. Investigators do not believe the 39-year-old targeted anyone in particular.
She told family members that she believed the company was suppressing her videos, which included segments about veganism, animal cruelty and exercise, along with glamor shots of herself.
The shooter got into the building through a parking garage. On Wednesday, investigators were conducting searches at two properties, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that Aghdam had a longstanding dispute with YouTube. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorised to discuss the case, said Aghdam used the name “Nasime Sabz” online.
A website in that name decried YouTube’s policies and said the company was trying to “suppress” content creators.
“YouTube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!” one of the messages on the site said. “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!”
People who post on YouTube can receive money from advertisements that accompany their videos, but the company “de-monetises” some channels for reasons including inappropriate material or having fewer than 1000 subscribers.
Aghdam “hated” YouTube and was angry that the company stopped paying her for videos she posted, her father, Ismail Aghdam, told the Bay Area News Group.
On Monday, he called police to report his daughter missing after she did not answer the phone for two days and told officers that she might go to YouTube, he said.
Officers in Mountain View —48km from YouTube’s headquarters — found her sleeping in her car in a parking lot around 02:00 Tuesday but let her go after she refused to answer their questions. Aghdam did not appear to be a threat to herself or others, police spokesperson Katie Nelson said.
Nelson would not say whether officers had been warned that Aghdam might have been headed to YouTube headquarters.
Authorities first said the shooting was being investigated as a domestic dispute but did not elaborate. It was not clear why police later said the people shot were not specifically targeted.
Two women wounded in the attack were released on Wednesday from a San Francisco hospital. The third victim, a 36-year-old man, remained in serious condition. His condition was upgraded from critical when he was brought in Tuesday.
YouTube employee Dianna Arnspiger said she was on the building’s second floor when she heard gunshots, ran to a window and saw the shooter on a patio outside.
“It was a woman and she was firing her gun. And I just said, ‘Shooter,’ and everybody started running,” Arnspiger said.
She and others hid in a conference room for an hour while another employee repeatedly called 911 for updates.
The world’s biggest online video site is owned by Silicon Valley giant Google. The headquarters has more than a thousand engineers and other employees in several buildings. Originally built in the late 1990s for the clothing retailer Gap, the campus south of San Francisco is known for its sloped green roof of native grasses.
Inside, Google several years ago famously outfitted the office with a 3-lane red slide for workers to zoom from one story to another.
“Today it feels like the entire community of YouTube, all of the employees, were victims of this crime,” said Chris Dale, a spokesperson for YouTube.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a tweet that the company would “come together to heal as a family”.
Officers and federal agents responding to multiple 911 calls swarmed the company’s campus sandwiched between two interstates in the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Bruno.
Zach Vorhies, 37, a senior software engineer at YouTube, said he was at his desk working on the second floor of one of the buildings when the fire alarm went off.
He got on his skateboard and approached a courtyard, where he saw the shooter yelling, “Come get me”. He said the public can access the courtyard without any security check during working hours.
There was somebody lying nearby on his back with a red stain on his stomach that appeared to be from a bullet wound.
He said he realised it was an active shooter incident when a police officer with an assault rifle came through a security door. He jumped on his skateboard and took off.