A man accused of initiating a “swatting” incident that resulted in the death of another man halfway across the country has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and interference with law enforcement according to court records made public on Friday. He was also charged accused of making a false alarm, which carries a felony charge.
On December 28, 25-year-old Tyler Barriss called police in Wichita, Kansas, falsely claiming he’d shot his father during an argument and was holding two other people hostage in a home there. Barriss, however, was in Los Angeles, and the home he sent the police to in Wichita was where 28-year-old Andrew Finch’s mother lived.
When Finch walked out the door to see why the police had shown up, he was shot and killed by an officer. According to the Washington Post, two unnamed gamers were playing Call of Duty: WWII and got into a dispute — one dared the other to swat him, and for some reason provided Finch’s address. That gamer contacted Barriss, who made the false call that sent police to Finch, a father of two.
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According to the Los Angeles Times, police have said they though Finch was armed when he moved his hands toward his waistband and then motioned toward the officers. Barriss has been extradited to Kansas, and his bond has been set at $500,000.
Swatting is a cruel and dangerous game
Swatting is a high-stakes prank where someone makes a false police report with the intention of luring law enforcement to the residence of a person who’s done something to anger them. The goal is to get police officers and, particularly, a SWAT team, to respond. At best, swatting leads to both law enforcement and intended victim scratching their heads; at worst, innocent people like Finch — who didn’t even play video games — die.
As streaming has taken off, swatting has become an increasingly common practice among online gamers and internet trolls, with several high profile incidents over the last few years. (In one 2014 episode, a SWAT team entered, raided, and searched a man’s office while his webcam was streaming — the camera caught and broadcast the officers throwing the man down to the ground as the room he was in was searched. The footage, predictably, went viral.) Some celebrities have been swatting targets, including Tom Cruise, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown.