The deadly “swatting” prank back in December of 2017, which was started over a Call of Duty match, ended in the death of Andrew Finch, a man wholly unrelated to the match. Finch was shot by a police officer summoned to his house after defendant Tyler Barriss allegedly made a 911 call about a fake hostage situation at Finch’s address in Wichita, Kansas.
Barriss and two other defendants have been indicted by federal prosecutors for Finch’s death.
According to the report by Ars Technica:
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.
According to the indictment, after Barriss placed the fraudulent call to emergency services, he asked Gaskill if the police had shown up at his house. Gaskill responded that “they showed up to my old house that we own and rented out. We don’t live there anymore bahahaha.”
Reportedly, once word of Finch’s death hit the media, Gaskill began to panic and ordered Barris and Viner to delete everything.
After the federal investigation, Viner is being charged with conspiracy for asking Barriss to make the swat call. Gaskill is being charged with fraud for giving Barriss the wrong address and goading him into placing the 911 call. Both Gaskill and Viner are being charged with obstruction of justice for deleting their chat logs. Barriss himself is already facing manslaughter charges in Kansas.
Gaskill and Viner are scheduled to appear in court on June 13th, 2018.
Additionally, the officer who fired the shot that killed Finch will likely not face any charges as the district attorney opted not to prosecute him.
US attorney Stephen McAllister said on Wednesday that the charges are intended to send a message about similar swatting pranks. “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.
Barriss also faces charges related to making bomb threats on the FCC and FBI headquarters in Washington, DC.