A YouTuber arrested on Sunday by Mountain View, California police for suspicion of threatening Google drove all the way from Waterville, Maine – a cross-country 3,000 mile trip – to confront staff for allegedly terminating his account on Google subsidiary YouTube – unaware that it was actually his spouse who deleted it, BuzzFeed News reported on Tuesday.
According to BuzzFeed, Kyle Long, 33, has “had a history of mental health issues.” He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after he was convicted in the 2002 death of his friend, Michael Butler, in an intoxicated driving incident that NBC News reported landed him a five-year prison sentence. Another incident in 2015 reportedly involved a slow-speed police pursuit on an interstate, his father Kevin Long told BuzzFeed.
Samantha Long, Kyle Long’s spouse, told BuzzFeed that she had deleted the account – to which he had posted just one “rambling” and “bizarre” get-rich-quick guide – out of concern for him, later pointing the finger at YouTube because she “didn’t want him losing his shit in front of my kids.” During the cross-country trip, Waterville police, as well as an Iowa State Patrol trooper who had seen Kyle Long while he was travelling, reported concerns about his statements to the Mountain View Police Department.
BuzzFeed wrote that while Mountain View police did not identify a specific threat against Google staff, they allege the man had made nonspecific threats alluding to violence in the event his account was not restored:
“He had good intentions – he wanted to solve world hunger and this and that,” Kevin Long said of his son, who he said was convinced his video would solve the world’s problems. “It was bizarre and crazy, and it wasn’t going to happen.”
Instead, Kyle Long was arrested Sunday by Mountain View police in California on suspicion of making threats against Google... A spokesperson for Mountain View police told BuzzFeed News that Kyle Long didn’t threaten specific people at Google, but that the Maine resident had “made general threats of violence towards unknown people if the meeting regarding his YouTube channel didn’t go as he wanted it to.”
Google declined to comment on the matter.
Kyle Long was apprehended two miles from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, NBC reported. Those offices are separate from YouTube’s headquarters, which is around 25 miles away in San Bruno. Three baseball bats were found in the vehicle, though Kevin Long explained to BuzzFeed that his grandson plays baseball.
According to NBC, Santa Clara County records show that the suspect is being held in lieu of £19,000 bail.
As the Verge noted, it’s not uncommon for users on massive platforms like YouTube to develop grudges, since many decisions are delegated to automated systems and those that feel wronged may not receive much attention from staff. (To be entirely clear: This is not, in any way whatsoever, a justifiable reason to threaten violence, and workplace violence in the U.S. is far from exclusive to tech companies.)
Last year, a San Diego woman named Nasim Najafi Aghdam entered YouTube offices in San Bruno and opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, wounding three before killing herself. Police later concluded she was motivated by frustration with the “policies and practices of YouTube,” and traces of her social media presence left online indicated she was particularly angry about changes to its monetisation requirements, as well as age restrictions imposed on her videos. YouTube subsequently said it would be increasing security measures at all of its offices worldwide. [BuzzFeed News/NBC News]
Featured image: Marcio Jose Sanchez (AP)