Editor's Note: This report was produced and originally published March 20 by Threat Lens, Stratfor's unique protective intelligence product. Designed with corporate security leaders in mind, Threat Lens enables industry professionals to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people and assets around the world.
The shooter in the April 3 attack on YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, has been identified as 39-year-old Nasim Aghdam, ABC News reported April 4. According to information posted on her website, Aghdam was a prolific YouTube user who became enraged at the company when earnings from her YouTube channel declined. She claimed that YouTube had made it difficult to find her videos, causing them to lose viewership.
According to some reports, Mountain View, California, police encountered Aghdam sleeping in her car the morning of the shooting in a park near the YouTube headquarters. Her father also reportedly had expressed concerns to the police that she was going to act on her rage at the company. If confirmed, this would make the YouTube shooting yet another instance of ignored warning signs.
In addition to Aghdam's father, some YouTube employees certainly knew of her anger. Whether anyone warned YouTube security she posed a potential threat, and whether they worked to assess her and alerted employees and law enforcement about her, remains unclear. This case helps to reinforce the concept that protective intelligence is not just a concern for the corporate security department, but rather that all employees are responsible for helping identify, and reporting, potential threats.
As an outsider, Aghdam lacked intimate knowledge of the campus, making her vulnerable to detection as she completed the attack cycle. Had staff been on the lookout for her based upon her threats or her father's apparent warning, spotting her would naturally have been much easier.
Preventing attacks is of course always best, but when that is not possible, a rapid reaction can help mitigate their impact. In this case, the recognition and reaction time by employees to the presence of an active shooter appears to have been very quick, likely saving many lives. Aghdam reportedly fired 30-40 shots before taking her own life, and was only able to wound three employees. With many employees running out of the building and others barricading themselves behind locked doors, the avoid, deny, defend strategy appears to have helped keep the number of victims low. The police response also appears to have been very quick, with reports suggesting the first units arrived within 2 minutes. Such a rapid response also likely helped mitigate the damage she could do.