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SAN FRANCISCO: A woman opened fire with a handgun at YouTube's headquarters near San Francisco on Tuesday (Apr 3), wounding three people before shooting herself dead as employees of the Silicon Valley tech company fled into the surrounding streets, authorities said.
Police did not identify the suspect or say what might have motivated the shooting rampage at YouTube, a video-sharing service owned by Alphabet Inc's Google.
But MSNBC reported that investigators believe a woman in her 30s approached an outdoor patio and dining courtyard on the campus around lunchtime and began to fire before entering the building.
Senior law enforcement officials believe the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute, MSNBC and other media reported. A US government security official told Reuters there was no known connection to terrorism.
ABC News, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, said the suspect was 35 to 40 years old, and lived in Southern California, with no apparent connection to YouTube.
In a recording of a 911 call posted online by the Los Angeles Times, a dispatcher can be heard saying: “Shooter. Another party said they spotted someone with a gun. Suspect came from the back patio ... Again we have a report of a subject with a gun. They heard seven or eight shots being fired."
Dozens of emergency vehicles quickly converged on the YouTube campus, and police could be seen on televised aerial video systematically frisking several employees leaving the area with their hands raised.
One of the victims, a 36-year-old man, was listed in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital. A 32-year-old woman was listed in serious condition and a 27-year-old woman in fair condition. Authorities did not release names of the victims.
The three patients taken to San Francisco General Hospital were all awake, Dr. Andre Campbell, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, said at a news conference. All three people were victims of gunshot wounds, Campbell said, but none of them had undergone surgery. A fourth person was taken to a local hospital with an ankle injury from fleeing the scene.
"We have one subject who is deceased inside the building with a self-inflicted wound," San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini told reporters earlier. "At this time, we believe it to be the shooter."
San Bruno police earlier warned on Twitter to stay away from the area housing the headquarters of the Google-owned video sharing service near San Francisco.
"We are responding to an active shooter. Please stay away from Cherry Ave & Bay Hill Drive," the police department tweeted.
Employees recounted frantic scenes as they fled the headquarters of the Google-owned video sharing service near San Francisco, with one saying he saw blood on the floor as he escaped.
"We were sitting in a meeting and then we heard people running because it was rumbling the floor. First thought was earthquake," employee Todd Sherman tweeted.
"Sherman said that as he headed for an exit "someone said that there was a person with a gun," and added "at that point every new person I saw was a potential shooter."
I looked down and saw blood drips on the floor and stairs. Peeked around for threats and then we headed downstairs and out the front."
One image posted by a Twitter user showed employees being led out of the building with their hands up, with no further explanation.
Another YouTube employee Vadim Lavrusik tweeted: "Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers."
Later, Lavrusik said he had escaped to safety.
Witnesses reported helicopters on the scene as well as police SWAT teams.
YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki declined to comment to reporters as she left the building.
She later tweeted that there were "no words to describe how horrible it was to have an active shooter @YouTube today".
"Our deepest gratitude to law enforcement and first responders for their rapid response. Our hearts go out to all those injured and impacted today. We will come together to heal as a family," she added.
"It's with great sadness that I tell you - based on the latest information - four people were injured in this horrific act of violence," Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said in letter to employees that was posted on Twitter. "I know a lot of you are in shock right now. Over the coming days, we will continue to provide support to help everyone in our Google family heal from this unimaginable tragedy," he added.
In a separate tweet, Pichai said he and Wojcicki were "focused on supporting our employees & the @YouTube community through this difficult time together.”
The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed and that his administration was monitoring the ongoing situation in San Bruno.
Shortly afterward, Trump tweeted, "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."
YouTube headquarters is located some 50 kilometres from the main Google campus in Mountain View.
The shooting, which follows a series of deadly gun incidents at schools and elsewhere, comes amid heated debate on gun control measures in the United States.
An estimated 1.5 million people participated in demonstrations Mar 24 calling for stricter firearms measures following a deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Organisers of the March for Our Lives sent a message of solidarity to the employees hit by Tuesday's shooting, tweeting "Our hearts are with you, @YouTube."
Shootings by women are an extremely rare occurrence in the United States where the overwhelming majority of gun violence is carried out by men.
According to an FBI study that looked at 160 incidents involving one or more shooters in public places between 2000 and 2013 - just six of the people who opened fire were women, a share of 3.8 per cent.