Man pleads guilty to hoax that resulted in fatal police shooting in Kansas
Swat teams are elite law enforcement units that use specialised or military equipment and tactics
A California man has admitted making a hoax call to police that led to the death of a 28-year-old stranger.
Tyler Barriss, 26, pleaded guilty to charges relating to the so-called swatting prank, when he reported a bogus hostage situation. As a result of his actions, law enforcers shot and killed father-of-two Andrew Finch at his home in Wichita, Kansas.
So what is swatting?
Swatting is increasingly common in the US and involves someone making a false report aimed at luring a Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team or other law enforcers to a specific location. Swat teams are only sent into situations where people are assumed to be in real danger, so their response may be swift and even deadly.
Hoaxers can use technical trickery to mask their identities and make it appear that the hoax call or report originated from the victim’s residence.
High-profile victims have included Tom Cruise, and video live-streamers have also been targeted, since the police raid may be broadcast across the internet. Or to put in another way, “thousands of people online get a front-row seat to the action, thanks to your computer’s webcam”, says Business Insider.
What happened in Kansas?
Finch’s death was the result of a tragic mix-up following an argument over a video game. According to reports, two gamers, Casey Viner, 18, and Shane Gaskill, 20, had fallen out over a $1.50 bet linked to an online match of Call of Duty: WWII. Viner allegedly asked Barriss to “swat” Gaskill, but didn’t realised that his rival no longer lived at the address to be targeted.
Posing as Gaskill, Barriss called Wichita police to the house, claiming that he had killed his father, was holding family members at gunpoint and intended to kill himself. But when police arrived at the residence, they found Finch, who was shot and killed in the ensuing confusion.
Barriss is expected to be handed at least 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in January, after pleading guilty to dozens of charges relating to hoaxes across the US, reports The Guardian.
Court records show that he had called in fake crimes almost daily over the past two years, including threats to high schools and bomb threats to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
His lawyer said Barriss is “accepting full responsibility for his conduct”.
Viner and Gaskill deny any wrongdoing and are awaiting trial.