A shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California that left three people injured and one person dead deeply affected the greater YouTube community last night.
San Bruno chief of police Ed Barberini said in a press conference on Tuesday that one victim was found on YouTube’s premises with an apparent gunshot wound, and two other victims were found off-site. Police later identified the suspected shooter, a woman in her late ‘30s who lived in Southern California. She died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.
Some of the platform’s top creators published videos addressing the situation, ending with personal notes about the incident. Other YouTubers decided not to publish videos at all in wake of the tragedy, tweeting their sentiments instead. Most YouTubers who were talking about the incident on Twitter made a call to their followers to not post disingenuous news or rush to retweet every update that came in.
“Anxious. Concerned. Feel sick,” Casey Neistat tweeted, including a link to a CBS News livestream. “Hoping for the best for everyone effected.”
“I love all my friends at YouTube and am horrified and we know very little and please don’t guess or trust things that might be made up or clamor for information,” Hank Green said. “Let time do the work.”
Jake Paul, who recently created a mini-documentary on the Parkland shooting that left 17 high school students dead, followed up his thoughts on Twitter with a video. Paul points out the video is not monetized. Other YouTubers, especially news and commentator channels, also posted videos about the events but chose not to monetize their videos so as to not profit off the tragedy.
“Unbelievably upset & sick,” Paul said. “YouTube HQ .. my thoughts & prayers go out to the amazing team there .. I hope you all stay safe. No one should have to go through something so horrific. I have been inside that exact building & it’s scary to even say that .. We need change …now!”
Both Keemstar and Philip DeFranco, for example, posted videos going over the basic news points as they were coming in, keeping their followers updated on Twitter. DeFranco noted in his video that he couldn’t imagine what people at YouTube were going through, noting in the video’s description, “My heart and well wishes go out to everyone at Youtube ... I haven’t monetized this video because the last thing I want to do is profit from this tragedy.”
Anthony Padilla, one of Smosh’s co-founders, also chimed in, asking his followers to support one another instead of bickering.
“Just loooove having my mentions filled with people defending things made specifically with the intent of harm and destruction,” he said. “Some people just like to watch the world burn ... signing off for a while. hope all the gun lovers in my mentions enjoy shouting into the void. maybe if you’re lucky you’ll hear your shouts echo back at you and you’ll feel like you’re having a real conversation.”
Boogie2988, perhaps best known for his “Francis” persona and his early support of GamerGate, also followed suit. The YouTuber asked his followers to not turn the shooting into an argument over demonetization practices (something the alleged shooter accused YouTube of in a past video). He also removed a recent video that complained about YouTube’s demonetization problems “out of respect for those harmed today and in solidarity with the people who run the site,” although other videos criticizing the company’s “ad friendly” policies are still active.
“See a few of my followers and some trolls saying bad things about YouTube employees and the way the site is run,” he said. “To be clear NO ONE deserves this. THIS IS NOT OK. These are innocent people who are doing their best. FUCK YOU if you wish them harm.”
Hannah Hart, a popular YouTuber well known in the LGBTQ community, tweeted about using the phrase “thoughts and prayers,” a sentiment that has been mocked by critics as a placeholder text for politicians to use instead of enforcing stricter gun control laws.
“My heart breaks for our YouTube family,” Hart said. “As we wait for information, this is the only acceptable time for thoughts and prayers for survivors...”
Some of YouTube’s most prominent, front-facing executives like Ryan Wyatt, head of YouTube Gaming, and Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO, also issued thoughts on the situation via Twitter, thanking people for checking in on staff. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, YouTube’s parent company, also spoke for the greater Google family-at-large.
“Myself, and my entire team in San Bruno, are okay,” Wyatt said. “Thank you for checking on all of us. If you believe in prayer, please keep our colleagues in mind.”
“There are no words to describe the tragedy that occurred today,” Pichai said. “Susan Wojcicki & I are focused on supporting our employees & the YouTube community through this difficult time together. Thank you to the police & first responders for their efforts, and to all for msgs of support.”
“There are no words to describe how horrible it was to have an active shooter [at] YouTube today,” Wojcicki said. “Our deepest gratitude to law enforcement & first responders for their rapid response. Our hearts go out to all those injured & impacted today.
“We will come together to heal as a family.”
Update: Casey Neistat, who is often seen as the face and voice of the YouTube community, published his own thoughts on his connection to the building where the shooting took place, his adoration for the platform and love for the people who work at the company; many of whom Neistat deals with regularly.