One person is dead and four wounded after a shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, the police said.
The San Bruno police chief said during an afternoon news conference that the fatality, a woman, could be the shooter and appeared to have died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot.
An FBI study of 160 “active shooter” incidents between 2000 and 2013 found that only six incidents, or 3.8%, were perpetrated by a female shooter.
As reports first emerged about the shooting, employees posted about barricading themselves inside rooms as police and ambulances arrived at the scene.
“Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with co-workers,” Vadim Lavrusik, a YouTube employee, posted to Twitter.
A spokesman for San Francisco General Hospital said that the hospital had received three patients, one in critical condition. The patients are a 32-year-old woman in serious condition, a 27-year-old woman in fair condition, and a 36-year-old man in critical condition. The nearby Stanford hospital is expecting four to five patients of unknown condition, a hospital spokeswoman Lisa Kim said.
Zach Vorhies, a senior software engineer at YouTube, told the Guardian that he was at his desk when the fire alarm went off. As he passed through an interior courtyard between the main building and the parking garage he saw a man on the ground with what appears to be a bullet wound to the stomach. He heard what he assumed to be the shooter shout “come and get me!” and saw police with assault weapons responding.
Project manager Todd Sherman said he was sitting in a meeting when he heard people running to leave the building. Upon exiting the room he saw “blood drips on the floor and stairs” and heard people say there was a potential shooter before he managed to escape the building.
“Police cruisers pull up, hopped out with rifles ready and I told them where the situation was as I headed down the street to meet up with a couple team members,” he said.
Aerial footage shot by CBS News shows staff leaving the building with their hands in the air. Offices of other companies nearby were also on lockdown.
“My stomach sinks with yet another active shooter alert,” said California senator Dianne Feinstein. “I’m praying for the safety of everyone at YouTube headquarters.”
The incident comes during a renewed debate over American gun control laws, following a 14 February mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead. Hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrated for stricter gun laws on 24 March in Washington and across the country.
With Republicans in Congress blocking any new gun control legislation, much of the activism after the Parkland shooting has shifted to the private sector, with advocates pressuring corporations to drop discounts for National Rifle Association members, change their policies for selling certain weapons and accessories, or divest from companies that manufacture firearms. When a Fox News host tweeted disparagingly about a Parkland activist not getting into his top colleges, the 17-year-old successfully called for advertisers to boycott her show.
YouTube is one of the companies that introduced new policies after the Parkland shooting. In late March, it quietly debuted restrictions on some gun-related video content, Bloomberg News reported, including prohibiting videos promoting the sale of bump stocks or instructing users how to manufacture firearms or high-capacity magazines
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun manufacturers, called YouTube’s new policy “worrisome” in a statement to Bloomberg News in late March.
YouTube has also come under scrutiny for the way its platforms have been used after mass shootings to spread conspiracy theories that mass shootings are hoaxes perpetrated to advance gun control, and that grieving survivors and family members of shooting victims who appear in the media are “crisis actors”.
- Lois Beckett contributed reporting
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