The father of a man who allegedly drove more than 3,300 miles across the country to confront Google workers about a missing YouTube video said he noticed his son’s strange behavior well before an arrest was made Sunday afternoon not far from the company’s Mountain View headquarters.
About two weeks ago, 33-year-old Kyle Long decided he was going to end world hunger from his Waterville, Maine, residence by creating YouTube videos and collecting money from page views, according to his father, Kevin Long. But when the elder Long watched the video his son made, he was immediately alarmed.
“It was the most bizarre thing,” Kevin Long, 57, told The Chronicle on Tuesday. “It was somebody who was out there and not in the right state of mind.”
Kevin Long said his son has bipolar disorder and was experiencing a manic episode when he created the video. Kyle Long’s wife ended up taking it down, Kevin Long said, adding that his son was certain a YouTube or Google employee removed the video.
In an incident that has drawn parallels to the disgruntled YouTube video creator Nasim Aghdam, who stormed the company’s headquarters last April and shot multiple people before taking her own life, Kyle Long was determined to convince the company, in person, to repost the video. So he got in his car and started driving.
He was intercepted by Mountain View police shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday, when officers arrested him near Highway 101 and Moffett Boulevard, about 2 1/2 miles from the Googleplex. He was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats after authorities in Iowa told Mountain View police to be on the lookout. Kyle Long had three bats in his car and directions to Mountain View up on his phone when he was taken into custody, police said. His father said he had the bats because he plays on a softball team and his 9-year-old son plays Little League baseball.
Kyle Long was booked into Santa Clara County jail on $25,000 bail.
Last year, Aghdam, 39, expressed displeasure with YouTube, which is owned by Google, for censoring her videos and preventing them from getting views. YouTubers can make money from ads that run with their videos or through sponsored posts, and Aghdam said the company had unfairly throttled back viewership of her videos.
On April 3, she walked into the company’s San Bruno headquarters and shot three people before killing herself. Her family claimed they attempted to warn local authorities prior to the incident, but Aghdam was allowed to go free by Mountain View police after she was found sleeping in her car 11 hours before the shooting.
“The major difference between last year’s incident at YouTube and this is that we were aware a threat had been made at all,” said Mountain View Police Department spokeswoman Katie Nelson. “We were told not only that Long was threatening violence if things didn’t go his way, we had a trail of just how far he had come to address his complaints with the company.”
While driving through Iowa on Friday morning, Kyle Long crashed his car into a ditch off Interstate 80 in Adair County, about 60 miles southwest of Des Moines. Iowa State Patrol spokesman Nathan Ludwig said snow and icy conditions on the roads played a factor in the crash, which didn’t result in any injuries but required a tow truck.
The trooper who responded to the crash talked to Kyle Long about his plans and then contacted police in Waterville, Maine.
“He didn’t make any threats about Google. He stated that he was going out there for a meeting,” Ludwig said. “It was enough to raise concerns, based on what the officer in his home city back in Maine told him.”
Police in Waterville, Maine, contacted Mountain View police on Sunday because they believed Kyle Long intended to get violent with Google staff if his meeting didn’t go well, police said. Waterville Deputy Chief William Bonney declined to be more specific about the suspect’s plans, citing the ongoing investigation.
“I can confirm that we gave them information on Sunday,” Bonney said. “Mountain View appreciated the cooperation to keep everybody safe and at the end of the day, that’s what our goal was.”
Before he made it out of Iowa, Kyle Long had another run-in with state troopers.
He vandalized a gas station bathroom near Stuart, Iowa, Ludwig said, but by the time another trooper arrived at the scene it had been cleaned up. The gas station attendants didn’t want to press charges and no arrest was made.
Kyle Long has had prior run-ins with police, including arrests for domestic violence, assault and a 2002 crash that killed his friend. He was convicted of second-degree vehicular manslaughter at 16 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He hasn’t been the same since he got out, his father said. Despite having several stints in psychiatric wards, Kevin Long said, facilities usually released him after a few days because they were short on beds.
“All he needs is some help,” Kevin Long said. “Since he’s been 16 he’s not even had a chance. He’s the absolute poster child for what’s wrong with the prison system and what’s wrong with the mental health system.”
Google did not respond to a request for comment.
Ashley McBride is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Twitter: @ashleynmcb
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