Federal prosecutors have unsealed an indictment against three men involved in the December death of a Kansas man, Andrew Finch. Finch was shot by police officers after one of the defendants, Tyler Barriss, made a call to 911 dispatchers about a completely made-up hostage situation at Finch’s address.
County prosecutors in Kansas have already charged Barriss with manslaughter.
According to the indictment, Shane Gaskill, 19, and Casey Viner, 18, were playing on December 28, when they got into a dispute over events in the game. Viner became so upset that he asked Barriss—who had a reputation for making SWAT calls—to “swat” Gaskill.
Gaskill wasn’t impressed with Viner’s threat. Gaskill allegedly told Barriss that he lived at 1033 McCormick in Wichita, daring Barriss to swat him. “Please try some shit. I’ll be waiting,” Gaskill wrote in an electronic message.
Barriss then called a Wichita emergency line and said his name was Brian and that he lived at 1033 McCormick. He told a 911 dispatcher that his parents “were arguing, and I shot him in the head, and he’s not breathing anymore.”
According to the indictment, Barriss claimed that he was holding his mother and brother hostage in a closet and that he had doused the house in gasoline and was thinking about lighting it on fire.
Several police officers were dispatched to the house where the Finch family lived. Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old who had nothing to do with the dispute—answered the door and was fatally shot when a police officer believed he was reaching for his waistband.
Gamers are charged with destroying evidence
Meanwhile, Barriss allegedly asked Gaskill if the police had showed up at his house, and Gaskill responded that “they showed up to my old house that we own and rented out. We don’t live there anymore bahahaha.”
But later that evening, Gaskill began to panic.
“Dude, me you and bape [Casey Viner] need to delete everything,” he said in a message to Barriss that was recovered by police. “This is a murder case now. Casey deleted everything. You need 2 as well. If you don’t you’re literally retarded I’m trying to help you both out. They know it was a swat call.”
Now the feds are charging Gaskill and Viner—as well as Barriss—with crimes related to the incident. Viner is being charged with conspiracy for asking Barriss to make the swat call. Gaskill is being charged with wire fraud for giving Barriss the wrong address and then goading him into swatting it.
And both Gaskill and Viner are being charged with obstruction of justice for deleting potentially incriminating chat logs. Gaskill and Viner are scheduled to appear in court on June 13, according to the .
The officer who fired the deadly shot will likely not face charges after the local district attorney opted not to prosecute him.
At a Wednesday news conference, US attorney Stephen McAllister said that the prosecutions are intended to send a message about the practice of swatting. “It is not a joke or a prank. It is a federal crime, and it puts peoples’ lives at risk.” McAllister said that, of the three men, Barriss is facing the most serious charges.
Also this week, federal prosecutors unsealed charges against Barriss for making bomb threats to the FCC and FBI headquarters in Washington, DC.