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YouTube Shooting Suspect Was Angry About ‘Demonetization,’ Father Warned Cops

UPDATED: New details have emerged about the woman identified as opening fire at YouTube’s headquarters Tuesday in San Bruno, Calif., injuring three people.

The shooting suspect was identified by local police as Nasim Aghdam, a 39-year-old San Diego resident who died at the scene Tuesday afternoon of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Three people at the YouTube campus were injured, one critically, by the alleged shooter.

Aghdam had expressed grievances toward YouTube in videos and online posts, complaining that the Google-owned video platform was discriminating against her, censoring her content and had “demonetized” her videos.

San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said at a press conference Wednesday that Aghdam was “upset with the policies and practices of YouTube. This appears to be the motive for the incident.”

Her father, Ismail Aghdam, said in an interview with CBS2 News in Los Angeles that he had contacted San Diego police on Monday to warn them about her grievances toward YouTube. According to the report, he said law-enforcement authorities — responding to a missing person report — contacted him Tuesday at 2 a.m., telling him they had found his daughter in her car in Mountain View, about 30 miles south of San Bruno. According to Ismail Aghdam, police said they would keep an eye on her.

“She was angry,” he told the Mercury News. Ismail Aghdam had told police that he feared his daughter was going to YouTube’s headquarters because she “hated” the company.

The Mountain View Police Department in a statement Wednesday afternoon said that officers spoke with Aghdam’s father and brother. According to the department, Ismail Aghdam told them YouTube “had recently done something to her videos that had caused her to become upset” and that he suspected that was why his daughter was in the area. However, the police department said, “at no point did her father or brother mention anything about potential acts of violence or a possibility of Aghdam lashing out as a result of her issues with her videos.” MVPD added that “there was no indication from either Aghdam or her family that she may have been in possession of any weapons.”

Aghdam posted videos on YouTube in English, Farsi and Turkish using various screen names, including “Nasime Sabz.” Her channel and other social-media accounts have been deleted since the shooting.

On YouTube, Aghdam’s videos spanned a range of topics, including animal rights, vegan cooking, and music video parodies. But more recently, she took to railing against YouTube and its policies. “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!,” she wrote in a post on her website, nasimesabz.com.

In another post, she shared an image of her YouTube page showing that a video that had received 366,591 views generated just 10 cents of ad revenue. “My revenue for 300,000 is $0.10?????” she wrote.

One of the evident sources of Aghdam’s rage was a new policy YouTube announced in January, setting stricter requirements for content creators to be eligible for ad-revenue sharing. The site implemented those in response to marketers’ concerns over the “brand safety” of ad-supported videos on the site.

Under the new rules, YouTube Partner Program participants need to have at least 4,000 hours of video watch-time for their videos within the past 12 months and at least 1,000 subscribers. Creators previously part of the rev-share program who didn’t meet those requirements were dropped — “demonetized” in the jargon of the platform — effective Feb. 20. Previously, the minimum threshold to participate in the revenue-sharing program was 10,000 video views. But according to YouTube, the previous standard didn’t provide enough information to filter out “bad actors” like spammers and impersonators.

In another post on her website about YouTube, Nasim Aghdam wrote: “They only care for personal short-term profits & do anything to reach their goals by fooling simple-minded people, hiding the truth, manipulating science & everything, putting public mental & physical health at risk, abusing non-human animals, polluting environment, destroying family values, promoting materialism and sexual degeneration in the name of freedom.”

San Bruno police said that on Tuesday, April 3, at 12:46 p.m., it received numerous 911 calls reporting gunshots at the YouTube campus at 901 Cherry Ave. in San Bruno. As of Tuesday evening, the scene was being processed for evidence by San Bruno police detectives and the San Mateo County Crime Lab.

After police responded, they found Aghdam dead at the scene. The three individuals who were injured were transported to area hospitals; neither the police nor YouTube have confirmed that they are YouTube employees. One of the victims, a 36-year-old man, was in critical condition on Tuesday, while a 32-year-old woman was listed in serious condition, and a 27-year-old woman was in fair condition.

On Tuesday, the San Bruno police said they were investigating a motive for the shooting and said, “At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.”

In a tweet Tuesday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said: “There are no words to describe how horrible it was to have an active shooter @YouTube today. Our deepest gratitude to law enforcement & first responders for their rapid response. Our hearts go out to all those injured & impacted today. We will come together to heal as a family.”

The San Bruno Police Department on Wednesday said Aghdam used a 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun in the attack and that she visited a nearby shooting range earlier Tuesday. Police do not have information on where she obtained the gun but said she was in legal possession of the weapon.

On Tuesday evening, the department released a photo of Aghdam:

HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALESMandatory Credit: Photo by SAN BRUNO POLICE DEPARTMENT/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (9510089a) Nasim Aghdam YouTube Headquarters shooting, San Bruno, USA - 04 Apr 2018 An undated handout photo made available by San Bruno Police Department in San Bruno, California, USA, 04 April 2018 showing Nasim Aghdam aged 39. San Bruno Police Department reports on 04 April 2018 that they received reports of gunshots at the YouTube Campus located at 901 Cherry Avenue in San Bruno, Calfornia, USA on 03 April 2018 San Bruno Police Officers arrived on scene at 12:48pm and immediately entered the building to search for a possible suspect. Inside the complex officers located a deceased female, now identified as Nasim Aghdam, inside with a gunshot wound that is believed to have been self-inflicted. A total of four people were transported to local hospitals, three of which were suffering from gunshot wounds.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that four YouTube employees were injured in the April 3 shooting at YouTube’s headquarters. In fact, according to authorities, three people were wounded in the attack; police have not confirmed that all three were YouTube employees.

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