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What We Know About The YouTube Shooter


Now, let's turn now to Northern California in the city of San Bruno where a woman opened fire yesterday at YouTube's headquarters, wounding three before taking her own life. Audie Cornish, the co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, spoke to Zachary Vorhies. He's a senior software engineer at YouTube. They talked yesterday.


ZACHARY VORHIES: When I approached the courtyard, that's when I heard a commotion. I heard a man yelling out, do you want to shoot me? And about 25 feet away from him was somebody on the ground with an apparent gunshot wound in the stomach, and he was bleeding out of his shirt. And he wasn't moving.

GREENE: Just gives you a sense of the chaos yesterday at YouTube. NPR's Laura Sydell has been following this story. Hi, Laura.


GREENE: Help piece together what happened yesterday.

SYDELL: Well, at about 12:46 p.m., police say they began to receive numerous 911 calls about gunshots at the headquarters of YouTube, which is in San Bruno. And within two minutes, they arrived at headquarters. According to San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini, responding officers found a pretty chaotic scene, and people were fleeing the scene. There were - police officers then began patting down people as they were leaving the building. We have three people wounded who were sent to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital where a man is in critical condition. There are also two women who were wounded. One is in serious condition, and the other is in fair condition. And we know the name of the shooter. Her name is Nasim Aghdam.

GREENE: And do we know why she might have done this - targeting YouTube?

SYDELL: You know, it - the police are saying they don't know what her motivation may have been yet. There's no evidence, the police say, that she specifically targeted the victims. But she did have a YouTube channel. And she had kind of an eclectic group of videos - music parodies, workout videos, things about animal cruelty, vegan cooking. But on it, she also had some videos complaining about YouTube - about, I guess, having some of her videos blocked, and they were interfering with her being able to make a living.

GREENE: So, I mean, we don't want to jump to conclusions. But the possibility that she was angry at a tech company like this for how they were treating her, her videos - whatever it was - does that have people in Silicon Valley nervous after seeing what happened yesterday?

SYDELL: Well, I - you know, I don't think anybody is, as you say, jumping to conclusions about what her motivations were. Mostly what you're seeing here is a lot of sympathy. and Silicon Valley is actually rather tightknit. People tend to know each other. You had Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, tweeting out from everybody at Apple, we send our sympathy and support. You had Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, and he also said he can't imagine what his friends at YouTube are feeling. And I - you know, I will say, in the case of Twitter ages ago, they were threatened by Islamic extremists. So I can imagine that they must sort of feel the pain of what is going on there. I want to make clear, though - there is no sense that this is motivated by terrorism at all.

GREENE: Interesting though. I mean, we talk about communities going through this. It almost sounds like Silicon Valley - you could call it a community kind of coming together in a moment like this.

SYDELL: It is a community. It truly is. There is that sense here. It's a small place really.

GREENE: NPR's Laura Sydell reporting for us on the shooting at YouTube yesterday. Thanks, Laura.

SYDELL: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, andNPR.org.
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