Police in Los Angeles have arrested a man they suspect made a hoax emergency call that resulted in a SWAT police officer fatally shooting a man at the door of his own home in Wichita, Kansas. The hoax was made as the result of a $1.50 bet while playing the popular online video game Call of Duty. The FBI estimates that roughly 400 cases of swatting occur annually, with some using caller ID spoofing to disguise their number. Swatting is a prank where someone calls the police to report a fake emergency, often a hostage situation or active shooter, with the intent of drawing a SWAT team response to a location.
25-year old Tyler Barriss is suspected of making a 911 call with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at the victim's address. In the audio of the 911 call played by Wichita police at a news conference, a man said he shot his father in the head and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. The caller, speaking with relative calm, also said he poured gasoline inside the home before stating, "I might just set it on fire."
Officers subsequently surrounded the home at the address the caller provided and prepared for a hostage situation. When 28-year old Andrew Finch went to the door, police told him to put his hands up and move slowly. Finch put his hands up, but according to police reports, he repeatedly put his hands near his waist, which resulted in an officer fatally shooting him. As it turns out, Finch was unarmed and was not an online gamer according to his family. Wichita police Deputy Chief Troy Livingston said, "Due to the actions of a prankster, we have an innocent victim."
Tyler Barriss is accused of making the swatting call after getting into a dispute with a gamer while playing Call of Duty. He gave police the address he believed to be the other gamer's, officials say. The address was incorrect and now Andrew Finch is dead over a cruel hoax. As it turns out, Barriss had been previously arrested on suspicion of making hoax calls to police, including two false bomb threats in 2015, according to police records. Law Enforcement has not disclosed the possible charges that Tyler Barriss could face in connection with the Kansas shooting, but the victim's family believes that he should be held accountable for the wrongful death.
Andrew Winningham, eSports coordinator at Butler Community College, said gamers are debating whether police were justified in shooting Andrew Finch and they're not alone, as a lot of the United States is wondering the same thing. However, gamers are largely unified in condemning the person who made the 911 call and gamers will be watching closely to see what happens to Tyler Barriss. In other recent public cases of apparent swatting, three families in Florida in January of last year had to evacuate their homes after a detective received an anonymous email claiming that bombs had been placed at the address. You can read more about the swatting story via USA Today.