Eleven hours before she shot up YouTube headquarters and then killed herself, Nasim Najafi Aghdam chatted with police.
It was 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, and Aghdam was hundreds of miles away from home. Police found her car overnight at a Mountain View parking lot, about 30 miles southeast of YouTube headquarters.
A quick check of her license plate revealed the owner had been reported missing from the San Diego area.
“We contacted the woman inside the vehicle, who was asleep, to check on her and to determine if she was the same person who had been reported missing,” Mountain View police said.
“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 … she was calm and cooperative.”
So officers notified her family and let her go.
But Aghdam’s brother said he called police about his sister, an animal rights activist with a serious grudge against YouTube.
Website rails 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 upset with 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 hand art. It also lists an Instagram page that focuses on vegan life.
The woman’s grievances against YouTube appear to be centered around censorship and revenue.
“There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!” one post reads. “Youtube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!”
Another post accuses “close-minded” YouTube employees of putting an age restriction 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 an animal rights activist. But by Tuesday night, the account had been terminated, with a YouTube message citing “multiple or severe violations” of its policy.
The website’s postings aren’t limited to YouTube. Videos on several social media platforms include posts on animal rights, vegan lifestyle and the political system in Iran. Others include a bizarre mix of musical parodies.
An animal-loving vegan
Relatives are trying to reconcile how Aghdam, whom they called a peace-loving vegan, was capable of such violence.
Before Tuesday, her brother told KGTV, “she never hurt any creature.”
Aghdam was known for protesting against animal cruelty and supporting a vegan lifestyle, relatives said.
But in a phone call between Aghdam’s father and police, the father said YouTube recently took action on some of Aghdam’s vegan videos, a move that infuriated her.
Two calls, two different accounts.
When Aghdam’s brother learned her car was found in Mountain View, he worried she “might do something.”
“I Googled ‘Mountain View,’ and it was close to YouTube headquarters. And she had a problem with YouTube,” Aghdam’s brother told CNN affiliate KGTV.
He said he warned police that “she went all the way 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 her car, police called the woman’s father and brother.
“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. 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,” Mountain View police said.
“Roughly one hour after our phone call to Aghdam’s family, 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.”
But once again, police 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 (YouTube) videos.”