Wired has a big piece out on the fresh charges now lodged against the chief defendants in the Call of Duty swatting incident from last year that led to an innocent man’s death.
As we’ve previously chronicled, California resident Tyler Barriss reportedly called Wichita police to detail a supposed murder/hostage/arson in progress back at the end of 2017, 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 for an 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. (The other two Call of Duty players involved pleaded not guilty to charges including counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice, which could lead to 20 years in prison apiece.)
Now, Barriss has been hit with a slew of additional charges. Federal prosecutors have accused him of 46 additional crimes, some as long ago as 2015. He’s accused of sending bomb threats to schools in five different states as well as an ABC news station, multiple additional swattings (some for hire), bank fraud, and violating a protective order his own grandmother had taken out. He’s also been indicted for issuing bomb threats to the FBI and FCC. The swatting manslaughter trial itself set for January.
How did Barriss get away with all that until now? An excellent question. As Wired points out, however, there is growing support for taking such internet crime seriously; as a result of this particular murder, the Kansas governor signed the Andrew T. Finch Act into law, raising the top penalty for swatting crimes to 41 years.
As for what happened to the police officer who shot and killed Finch following Barriss’ absurd SWAT call, the district attorney determined this past spring that multiple officers thought Finch was reaching for a gun, thereby justifying the sniper shots. (Finch was not reaching for a gun.) The victim’s family is apparently continuing to pursue its civil suit against the department that was used as a weapon in his murder. “Finch’s mother, Lisa, has directed the bulk of her ire at the Wichita Police Department, which she believes acted with extreme recklessness on the night of her son’s death,” Wired says. “She is suing the city and several of its police officers in federal court for violating Andrew’s civil rights.”
Catch up on the whole sorry story: