Earlier today, a California man was sentenced to 20 years in prison, after making a fake emergency call to law enforcement that led to the death of a Kansas resident.
As reported by the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Tyler R. Barris to jail, as part if a guilty plea deal which was put together last year. As noted by Polygon, Barris pleaded guilty on federal charges of making a false report resulting in death, conspiracy, cyberstalking, and other charges.
For the uninitiated, swatting is a form of criminal harassment, in which someone deceives an emergency response service, and in turn, causes law enforcement to show up at someone else’s address. This is usually accomplished by calling in a fake bomb threat, hostage situation, or murder. The term is derived from the SWAT (special weapons and tactics) law enforcement unit — as a result of swatting someone, SWAT units are often dispatched to an unsuspecting victim.
Back in December of 2017, Tyler Barris placed a call to emergency dispatchers in Wichita, Kansas. He claimed to have killed one person, and that he was holding two others captive. Barris provided the address of another man in Kansas, 28-year-old Andrew Finch. Law enforcement officials quickly descended on Finch’s home, and he was shot by police, who said they thought he was reaching for a weapon. Finch was unarmed at the time of his death.
"If I could take it back, I would, but there is nothing I can do." Man sentenced to 20 years in prison in “swatting” case apologizes to family of man killed by police after bogus emergency call. https://t.co/P90XPGGwk6
— AP Central U.S. (@APCentralRegion) March 29, 2019
Prior to the incident that resulted in the death of Andrew Finch, Tyler Barris had gained a reputation as someone who was good at swatting others. His attorney, Richard Federico, said that Barris was “known as the guy on Twitter that is good at this.” Federico described his client as a loner who had “found solace in the gaming community” as he took up the mantle of “serial swatter.”
While in court, Tyler apologized to Andrew Finch’s family, taking full responsibility for the tragedy he caused.
“If I could take it back, I would, but there is nothing I can do,” Barriss said. “I am so sorry for that.”
As Polygon reports, Barris was recruited by an Ohio resident, Casey Viner, to swat another Wichita native, Shane Gaskill. The swatting call stemmed from an argument over a match in Call of Duty: WWII and a wager for a mere $1.50. Viner procured an address he thought belonged to Gaskill, though it turned out it was actually the home of Andrew Finch.