A California man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for a fatal swatting incident in 2017, along with making several other fake emergency calls. The fatal Kansas swatting led to the death of an unrelated man following a dispute over a bet in Call of Duty: WW2.
AP reports that Tyler Barriss, 26, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by US District Judge Eric Melgren on Friday. Barriss pleaded guilty to 51 federal charges related to fake calls and threats in November 2018. His fake calls led to the death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in late December 2017. The report states that Wichita, Kansas police were called by Barriss following a dispute with another Call of Duty player online. The address Barriss gave the police was not that of the intended target Shane Gaskill, and when the police arrived at the address, mistaken suspect Finch was shot and killed.
Swatting has been a recognized threat by the FBI since at least 2008, although the prevalence of swatting events has increased in the age of live streaming. The practice sees false reports being filed to incite SWAT investigations of a given address or person.
Both Casey Viner and the intended target Shane Gaskill have been charged as co-conspirators. Viner and Gaskill pleaded not guilty to charges, although Viner has told the court he intends to change that plea.
Finch was killed by Wichita police upon answering his door on December 28, 2017. Wichita police were given a bogus tip from Barriss that Finch’s address was related to shooting and kidnapping. Finch was unarmed. His family has since sued the city of Wichita and the still-unidentified officers involved. Prosecutors did not charge the officer in the death of Finch.
Finch’s death drew national attention to swatting, although it still happens regularly. Police departments are unable to reliably determine whether a report is false or not. The fatal Kansas swatting incident is the only that has led to a death so far, but others have come close.