By Ethan Baron and Matthias Gafni , Bay Area News Group
SAN BRUNO — A woman who shot three people and then took her own life at YouTubes headquarters Tuesday had become angry at the company because it stopped paying her for videos she posted on the platform, her father told the Bay Area News Group Tuesday night.
Nasim Aghdam, 38, who had recently lived in Menifee, told her family a couple of weeks ago that YouTube had “stopped everything,” and “she was angry,” Ismail Aghdam said in a telephone interview from his home in Menifee.
A source close to the investigation confirmed Aghdam was the woman who entered an open courtyard at the video-streaming giants campus at lunchtime Tuesday, shooting and wounding three people, one critically, before turning the handgun on herself.
Ismail Aghdam said that on Monday morning the family had called police to report his daughter missing, because she hadnt been answering her phone for two days. Mountain View police called the family around 2 a.m. Tuesday to tell them they had found Nasim sleeping in her car and that everything was “in control.” He said he had told police she might be going to YouTube because she “hated” the company.
Mountain View police confirmed Tuesday night that they had found a woman of the same name asleep in a vehicle early Tuesday morning in a parking lot.
“Our officers made contact with the woman after the license plate of her vehicle matched that of a missing person out of Southern California,” said Mountain View Police spokeswoman Katie Nelson.
“The woman confirmed her identity to us and answered subsequent questions. At the conclusion of our discussion, her family was notified that she had been located.”
Ismail Aghdam said his daughter was a vegan activist and animal lover. As a youngster, she would not even kill ants that invaded the family home, instead using paper to remove them to the back yard, he said. State records show she had once established a charity called Peace Thunder Inc., to “educate people about animal cruelty, environmental pollution” and other causes.
“For me, animal rights equal human rights,” Aghdam told the San Diego Union-Tribune at a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protest in 2009 outside Camp Pendleton.
She told her family that YouTube had stopped paying her for the content she posted to the site, Ismail Aghdam said. YouTubers can receive payment for advertisements accompanying their videos, but the company “de-monetizes” some channels for various reasons, meaning ads dont run with them.
Aghdam was prolific on social media, posting videos and photos on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. Her YouTube channel included strange workout video clips, graphic animal abuse videos and vegan cooking tutorials. But recent posts show evidence of her growing frustration.
Aghdams YouTube, Facebook and Instagram pages were all taken down late Tuesday, but not before reporters from this news organization were able to view much of the material.
On a March 18 Instagram post, she railed at YouTube: “All my youtube channels got filtered by youtube so my videos hardly get views and it is called “merely relegation.” This is also happening to many other channels on youtube. This is the peaceful tactic used on the internet to censor and suppress people who speak the truth and are not good for the financial, political … gains of the system and big businesses. I recently got filtered on instagram too and maybe its related to youtube and youtube staff asked instagram to filter me here too!!?”
On Jan. 28, Aghdam recorded a video of herself lamenting her perceived “discrimination” by YouTube, particularly railing on how YouTube determined her ab workout video was too racy and, therefore, filtered it.
“Im being discriminated and filtered on YouTube and Im not the only one,” the video begins, as Aghdam, wearing a black, white and orange long-sleeved shirt and short jet black hair stands in front of a background of green and white stars. “They age restricted my ab workout video. A video that has nothing bad in it. Nothing sexual.”
On one of her many websites, she claims to have at least four YouTube channels, one in English, and then others in Farsi and Turkish.
A law enforcement source on Tuesday said investigators were looking into whether she may have been targeting a boyfriend, but San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini wouldnt comment on a motive.
In the interview with this news organization, her father said the family knew nothing about Nasim owning a gun. “Maybe she bought one” recently, he said.
Southern California News Group staff writer Richard De Atley contributed to this report.