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. Now he faces a slew of additional charges at the federal level, including cyberstalking, making threats across state lines, wire fraud, and conspiracy. And while the county charges targeted Barriss alone, the feds are also charging two others involved in the incident.
According to the indictment, Shane Gaskill, 19, and Casey Viner, 18, were playing Call of Duty: World War II 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.They all also face obstruction charges for deleting messages. The officer who killed Finch will not face charges.
The "swatting" nonsense needs to stop, and the telecom industry is (slowly) working on technical solutions that seem like they will prevent it. But in the meantime, police departments need to recognize that some of these 911 calls are punks in their Mom's basement and dial back the SWAT hoopla.