Several Wounded in Shooting at YouTube Headquarters; Police Say Female Suspect Is Dead
SAN BRUNO, Calif. — A woman opened fire at YouTube’s headquarters in California on Tuesday afternoon, shooting three people — one of whom was critically injured — before killing herself, the authorities said.
The motivation for the shooting and the name of the woman were not known Tuesday evening. The local and state police, aided by several federal agencies, were investigating. The police said the woman had used a handgun in the attack, but would not say if she was a YouTube employee.
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital received three patients: a man, 36, in critical condition; a woman, 32, in serious condition; and a woman, 27, in fair condition, a hospital spokesman, Brent Andrew, said at a news conference. A fourth person had injuries that weren’t from a gunshot, the police said.
Word of the attack in San Bruno at YouTube, which is owned by Google and is one of the world’s largest social media companies, quickly spread online through the social media feeds of employees.
Vadim Lavrusik, a YouTube employee who formerly worked for The New York Times, tweeted just before 1 p.m. that there was an “active shooter at YouTube HQ” and that he had “heard shots and saw people running while at my desk.” He was barricaded inside a room with co-workers, he said, but moments later tweeted that he had been safely evacuated.
Silicon Valley’s offices have been remarkably safe and open places, despite routine threats from terrorists groups and people angered by the companies in one way or another.
The shooting took place in a courtyard inside YouTube’s offices, the police said. Those offices, like other Google facilities, maintain light security, with employees using badges to go through security gates or doors. Usually, the main lobby is attended by a receptionist. There are no visible metal detectors or armed guards.
As has happened after other highly publicized shootings, people were quick to draw conclusions online or joke about the identity of the attacker. Anonymous Twitter users named the comedian Sam Hyde — and other variations of his name, such as “Samir Al Hajeed” — and, in a tweet that included a photo of Hillary Clinton in a head scarf, “Samantha Hyde.”
Other tweets named popular YouTube personalities as the attacker. Jane Lytvynenko, a BuzzFeed news reporter, posted a series of tweets pointing out hoaxes and false accusations, and eventually found one that identified her as the assailant. “This is literally me,” she wrote.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, promised that his company was doing its utmost to keep conspiracies and hoaxes from spreading on the platform after the shooting. He added: “I can’t imagine what our friends at YouTube are feeling and dealing with right now. We‘re here for you and your families and friends.”
San Bruno is about nine miles south of San Francisco, with a population around 43,000. YouTube is the city’s biggest employer, and many workers commute here from San Francisco. Though YouTube is owned by Google, it operates in a separate office, about 20 miles from Google’s main campus in Mountain View, Calif.
The YouTube building sits near the crest of a hill that slopes up from a nearby highway. The tiered structure, modest by the standards of many big tech companies, is circled by several other office buildings, and a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant is across the street.
Outside the YouTube headquarters, armed police officers waded into a crowd of 200 or so employees who had evacuated to a nearby parking lot Tuesday afternoon. The police asked for employees who had witnessed something firsthand to come forward, and about two dozen, some visibly distraught, walked over to the officers.
Many employees said they had initially thought the episode was a fire drill. Others said they had run when people started shouting that there was a shooter. Two hours after the attack, YouTube employees, including Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive, continued to stream slowly down the hill, away from the office.
Footage broadcast by CNN showed people leaving the building in single file with their hands raised above their heads. Separate footage showed a large crowd lining up to be frisked, one by one, by the police.
Zach Vorhies, 37, a senior software engineer at YouTube, said in an interview that he had been sitting at his desk when the fire alarm went off. He grabbed his electric skateboard and headed for a back exit, he said. As he rode down a gravel hill, he heard someone shouting and saw a man lying motionless in one of the office’s outdoor dining areas.
“He had a red spot on his stomach, and he was lying on his back, not moving,” Mr. Vorhies said. “I saw the blood soak through the shirt.”
About 25 feet away from the victim, he said, a man was shouting, “Come at me!” Mr. Vorhies thought the man was the attacker, but he did not see a gun and said it was possible that the man had actually “been taunting the shooter.”
A moment later, an armed police officer entered the patio area, and Mr. Vorhies quickly left, he said.
The dining area can be reached from an adjacent parking structure without an employee badge, Mr. Vorhies said.
By 2:15 p.m., President Trump had been briefed on the shooting. He tweeted a short time later: “Was just briefed on the shooting at YouTube’s HQ in San Bruno, California. Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved. Thank you to our phenomenal Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders that are currently on the scene.”
Cameron Rogers Polan, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Division of the F.B.I., said in an email that the agency was in contact with the San Bruno police. The San Francisco division of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted that it, too, was responding to the shooting.
Google said on Twitter that it was “coordinating with authorities” and that it had instructed employees in San Bruno to “continue to shelter in place until further notice.” The company said it had told other employees in the area to stay away from San Bruno.
“I know a lot of you are in shock right now,” Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Over the coming days, we will continue to provide support to help everyone in our Google family heal from this unimaginable tragedy.”
Executives at other Silicon Valley companies took to Twitter to send their condolences to YouTube employees.
“From everyone at Apple, we send our sympathy and support to the team at YouTube and Google, especially the victims and their families,” Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, wrote.
Others, including a trauma surgeon at the hospital where shooting victims were taken, expressed anger at continued gun violence.
“You’d think that after we’ve seen Las Vegas, Parkland, the Pulse nightclub shooting, that we would see an end to this, but we have not,” the surgeon, Dr. Andre Campbell, told reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Daisuke Wakabayashi reported from San Bruno, and Maggie Astor and Maya Salam from New York. Reporting was contributed by Cade Metz from San Bruno; Nellie Bowles, Jack Nicas and Sheera Frenkel from San Francisco; and Matt Stevens, Daniel Victor, Keith Collins and Liam Stack from New York.
A version of this article appears in print on April 4, 2018, on Page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: A Shooting at YouTube’s Offices Rattles Silicon Valley. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe