Mountain View Police Did Not Check State's Gun Owners Database After Encountering YouTube Shooter

Authorities said Nasim Aghdam did not pose a threat or raise red flags during their conversation.

There are new questions Friday after this week’s shooting at YouTube’s San Bruno headquarters. On Tuesday, Nasim Aghdam shot three people at the campus then turned the gun on herself. Hours before the shooting, Mountain View Police found Aghdam in her car and questioned her. But there is still one nagging question: Could police have done anything to stop the shooting?

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit found Mountain View police did not run Aghdam’s name through a database of all registered gun owners in California. Law enforcement personnel across the state have the ability to access the database, but Mountain View officers didn’t check Aghdam’s name when they encountered her at a Walmart parking lot early Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, the San Bruno Police Department said after the 38-year-old opened fire at YouTube, authorities did check the state’s database of registered gun owners and found her name. If Mountain View police officers had run a search in that same database, they would have learned Aghdam owned a 9mm handgun.

After officers in Mountain View encountered Aghdam asleep in her car and found she had been reported missing in San Diego, they contacted her family.

Aghdam’s father expressed concern that Aghdam may have driven 500 miles to the Bay Area to visit YouTube. Mountain View’s police chief confirmed Aghdam’s father said his daughter was upset with the company.

Mountain View police say officers didn’t notice any red flags when they spoke with Aghdam hours before she shot three YouTube employees.

A department spokesperson said officers may run names through the registered gun owner’s database in situations when they suspect domestic violence or mental illness, for example. She said because Aghdam didn’t pose a threat, there was no reason for officers to check and see if she owned a gun.

Police must balance a person’s civil liberties and constitutional rights, and to check the database because someone is sleeping in their car may violate those rights, the spokesperson said.

She also said officers come across a lot of people who have issues with a tech or social media company and the call from Aghdam’s father didn’t raise alarm.  

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