A Call of Duty swatter has pleaded guilty to charges surrounding an incident that resulted in the death of a father of two. Tyler Barris, aged 26, had allegedly falsely reported a hostage situation to police at an address he believed belonged to one of his opponents in the game, an act that ultimately resulted in tragedy.
Swatting is the practice where one person will call emergency services and falsely report a dangerous crime in progress at the address of a target. For example, a caller might dial 911 and say that there is a hostage situation in progress with an armed gunman. Typically, the severity and danger of these scenarios result in the local police sending in a SWAT team or a large number of well-equipped regular officers.
The intent behind the practice may be simply to scare or annoy the target, but swatting can (and sadly, often does) have lethal consequences. In this case, the Call of Duty swatter allegedly asked a third party to supply them with the address of a rival from the game after he had lost a bet on the UMG platform totaling less than $2. Police responded to the incorrect address and found a bewildered 28-year-old father named Andrew Finch at the door.
Unfortunately, Mr. Finch reached at his waistband several times in the presence of officers primed to deal with a precarious crime in progress. Acting on the fear that he was reaching for a firearm, one of the officers on scene shot the father of two a single time. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital from wounds suffered during the incident. The officer who fired the shot will not be charged. The surviving members of Mr. Finch’s family have filed a civil suit against the city.
The Call of Duty swatter could face 20-25 years in prison if the court accepts his plea deal. Kotaku reports that his plea deal includes a total of 51 charges. Many of the crimes he’s been charged with are quite serious, including making interstate threats and threatening to kill another person.
While swatting typically results in nothing more than wasted police resources, the alleged actions of the Call of Duty swatter are a reminder that this is a not so harmless prank. A father is dead, at least one man’s life is ruined, and a community is shaken, all thanks to an overreaction to a lost bet in a game.