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Eleven hours before shooting at YouTube headquarters and then committing suicide, Nasim Najafi Aghdam spoke with the police.
It was 1:40 a.m. Tuesday and Aghdam was hundreds of miles from home. Police found his car overnight in a parking lot in Mountain View, about 30 miles southeast of YouTube’s headquarters.
A quick check of her license plate revealed that the owner had been reported missing in the San Diego area.
“We contacted the woman inside the vehicle, who was sleeping, to verify if she was the same person who was reported missing,” Mountain View police said.
“At no time during our approximately 20 minute interaction with her did she mention anything about YouTube, whether she was mad at them, or that she was planning on hurting herself. or hurt others…she was calm and cooperative.”
The officers therefore notified her family and let her go.
But Aghdam’s brother said he called the police about his sister, an animal rights activist with a serious grudge against YouTube.
Police are investigating a website that appears to show the same woman lambasting YouTube for restricting her videos.
Authorities have not confirmed whether the site belonged to Aghdam. But on Wednesday, San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said “we know (Aghdam) was mad at YouTube, and now we’ve determined that was the motive.”
The website lists four YouTube channels for the woman – one in Farsi, one in Turkish, one in English, and one devoted to the art of the hand. He also lists an Instagram page that focuses on vegan living.
The woman’s grievances against YouTube appear to center on censorship and revenue.
“There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want!!!!!” a bed post. “Youtube filtered my channels to prevent them from getting views!”
Another article accuses “closed-minded” YouTube employees of imposing an age limit on videos, saying it’s aimed at reducing views and discouraging the woman from making new videos.
On a YouTube channel, the same woman described herself as a vegan bodybuilder and animal rights activist. But by Tuesday night the account had been shut down, with a YouTube post citing “multiple or serious violations” of its policy.
Website postings are not limited to YouTube. Videos on several social media platforms include articles about animal rights, the vegan lifestyle and the political system in Iran. Others include a bizarre mix of musical parodies.
Relatives are trying to reconcile how Aghdam, whom they described as a peace-loving vegan, was capable of such violence.
Before Tuesday, her brother told KGTV, “she never hurt any creature.”
Aghdam was known to protest animal cruelty and support a vegan lifestyle, relatives said.
But in a phone call between Aghdam’s father and police, the father said YouTube had recently taken action against some of Aghdam’s vegan videos, a move that infuriated her.
When Aghdam’s brother learned that his car had been found in Mountain View, he feared she was “doing something”.
“I typed ‘Mountain View’ on Google, and it was close to YouTube headquarters. And she had a problem with YouTube,” Aghdam’s brother told CNN affiliate KGTV.
He said he tipped off the police that “she went from San Diego, so she might do something.”
But Mountain View police said they received no warning that Aghdam might do anything violent.
After discovering Aghdam in his car, the police called the woman’s father and brother.
“The father confirmed to us that the family had been having trouble at home, but in no way acted out of concern as to why his daughter had left. At no time during this conversation did Aghdam’s father or brother make any statement regarding the woman’s potential threat or possible attack on the YouTube campus,” Mountain View police said.
“About an hour after our phone call to Aghdam’s family, her father called us back to let us know that she had 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 get upset.”
But again, police said: “At no time did his father or brother mention anything about potential acts of violence or the possibility of Aghdam taking it on in the aftermath.” about his problems with his videos (YouTube)”.