Police defend decision not to detain YouTube shooter hours before shooting

Police in Northern California defended on Wednesday their decision not to detain the woman who later opened fire at YouTube’s offices after they found her sleeping in her car hours before the shooting, saying she gave them no cause for concern.

The shooter, Nasim Najafi Aghdam, wounded three people at YouTube’s San Bruno, Calif., headquarters on Tuesday before killing herself. Investigators said they believe Aghdam, an active YouTube user, was upset with the video-sharing site’s monetization policies and practices. The 39-year-old Iranian-born woman of Persian descent, who lived in Southern California, was reported missing by her family on March 31 in San Diego County.

According to a lengthy statement issued by the Mountain View Police Department, authorities said they discovered Aghdam sleeping in her car in a parking lot around 1:40 a.m. on Tuesday. Officers ran her license plate and discovered she had been reported missing and was considered “at risk” because she had never gone missing or left home before.

Aghdam “positively identified herself” and told police she had “decided to leave her family’s home a few days prior due to family issues.”

“She stated she had come to the area to stay with family, and while she was currently living out of her vehicle, she was in the process of looking for a job,” the statement read. “During our contact with her, she was asked a series of questions, including, but not limited to, if she was a danger to herself or others. At no point during our roughly 20-minute interaction with her did she mention anything about YouTube, if she was upset with them, or that she had planned to harm herself or others. Throughout our entire interaction with her, she was calm and cooperative. At the conclusion of our interaction with her, she in no way met any reason for us to speak with her further or possibly detain her.”

Police then called her family to report that she had been found.

“The father confirmed to us that the family had been having issues at home, but did not act in any way concerned about why his daughter had left,” the statement said. “At no point during that conversation did either Aghdam’s father or brother make any statements regarding the woman’s potential threat to, or a possible attack on, the YouTube campus. Also, there was no indication from either Aghdam or her family that she may have been in possession of any weapons.”

Law enforcement officers are seen outside YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., on Tuesday. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Law enforcement officers are seen outside YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., on Tuesday. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

But following Tuesday’s shooting, Aghdam’s brother told San Diego’s KGTV that the family was concerned that she was in the Bay Area.

“I googled ‘Mountain View,’ and it was close to YouTube headquarters. And she had a problem with YouTube,” he told the ABC affiliate. “So I called that cop again and told him there’s a reason she went all the way from San Diego to there, so she might do something. So they didn’t do anything, and she got killed.”

Mountain View police dismissed the suggestion they did nothing and refuted the brother’s description of the call.

“Her father called us back to let us know that she made a series of vegan videos for her channel on YouTube and that the company had recently done something to her videos that had caused her to become upset,” their statement said. “Aghdam’s father stated that she may have been in the area because of this. He did not seem concerned that she was in the area, and wanted to simply let us know that may have been a reason for her move up here.”

Police added: “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. They remained calm throughout this second phone call.”

The San Bruno Police Department said on Wednesday that a semiautomatic handgun registered to Aghdam was recovered at the scene.

San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini told reporters that Aghdam went to a local gun range on Tuesday morning prior to the shooting at YouTube.

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