Tyler Barriss, whose hoax call to Wichita police led to the shooting death of an innocent man, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, the Associated Press reports. The sentence in Kansas federal court is a stark reminder of the serious consequences of the deadly prank called “swatting.”
The December 2017 death of Andrew Finch began with an online feud over a game.
Casey Viner, then around 18 years old, allegedly recruited Barriss to “swat” the Wichita home of Shane Gaskill, who was about 19. Barriss called Wichita police pretending to be a deranged man with a gun holding members of his family hostage, giving what he believed was the target’s address.
As Barriss expected, the police responded by dispatching a SWAT team. But Gaskill lied to Barriss about where he lived. As a result, police surrounded a home occupied by the Finch family, which had nothing to do with the online dispute.
When 28-year-old Andrew Finch opened his front door, a police officer shot him. The officer later said he saw Finch reaching for his waist and feared he had a gun. In reality, Finch was unarmed.
“I heard my son scream, I got up, and then I heard a shot,” said Lisa Finch, Andrew’s mother, in a video interview with the
“They call it swatting,” she added. “I didn’t even know it was a thing.”
Barriss has shown little remorse for his crime
“I love swatting kids who think that nothing’s going to happen,” Barriss said in a YouTube interview hours after Finch’s death.
In April, the incarcerated Barriss briefly gained access to the Internet—and he took the opportunity to demonstrate that he had learned nothing from his time behind bars.
“All right, now who was talking shit?” he tweeted on April 6, 2018. “Your ass is about to get swatted.”
Barriss ultimately pled guilty to making a false report resulting in a death, cyberstalking, and conspiracy. He also acknowledged that he had been responsible for “dozens of similar crimes in which no one was injured.”
Viner and Gaskill were also charged with federal crimes as a result of Finch’s death. Viner—the man who allegedly asked Barriss to swat Gaskill—was charged with conspiracy. Gaskill was charged with wire fraud for giving Barriss the wrong address and then goading him into swatting it anyway. Both men are also in trouble for allegedly trying to destroy records of potentially incriminating chat messages.
Viner and Gaskill have both pleaded not guilty, the AP reports. “Viner has notified the court he intends to change that plea at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday. Gaskill’s trial has been delayed to April 23 amid plea talks with federal prosecutors,” according to the AP.
Prosecutors decided not to charge the police officer who shot Finch.