At the end of 2017, a Call of Duty swatting incident in Kansas took the life of a completely innocent man after police killed him following a fake tip to the wrong address, but it does appear that multiple people will finally be held responsible.
As we’ve previously chronicled, California resident Tyler Barriss reportedly called Wichita police to detail a supposed murder/hostage/arson in progress, using the address of what he apparently believed was one Call of Duty player intended as the focus of the ensuing police harassment, as provided by another player and played out live on Twitter. The address used, however, was apparently for a completely unrelated person, father of two Andrew Finch, who was subsequently shot and killed by police after opening his door. Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter and extradited to Kansas, having tweeted an admission of guilt and being suspected of multiple other incidents, including a bomb threat. While in prison, Barriss even tweeted out new threats.
When last we covered the legal developments of the story, we noted that the police officer who shot and killed Finch wouldn’t be charged; the district attorney says multiple officers thought Finch was reaching for a gun, thereby justifying the shots fired (which you’ll note doesn’t quite comport with the original reporting). Finch’s family is lodging a civil suit to that end.
We’d also reported that the pair of Call of Duty players – including the one who supposedly asked for the other to be swatted and delivered the fake address – wouldn’t be charged. That appears to no longer be the case. According to the LA Times, federal prosecutors charged both Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill along with Barriss. The government alleges that Viner asked Barriss to carry out the swatting call, while Gaskill provided the address. The duo will face down charges of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice (apparently, they all tried to delete their tweets and/or wipe their phones), while Viner alone will meet one count of making a false report. The charges could lead to 20 years in prison apiece.
Interestingly, the LA Times says Viner was also involved in other swatting incidents before now (previously, it was Barriss alone who’d stood accused of that).
Barriss himself has been charged with making false reports, cyberstalking, making threats to harm, and six counts of wire fraud. An LAPD detective has already given the court testimony that Barriss confessed to making the call. The defendant faces possible life in prison.
Catch up on the whole story: