A California man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday after making fake emergency calls to authorities across the country which led to the fatal shooting of a Kansas man by police.
Tyler R. Barriss, 26, admitted last November to calling Wichita police from Los Angeles in late 2017 to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at the Kansas home where 28-year-old Andrew Finch lived. He pleaded guilty to a total of 51 federal charges related to fake calls and threats.
Finch answered the door when police descended on his home, and an officer shot the unarmed man.
Authorities said Finch was not involved in the dispute nor playing the “Call of Duty: WWII” video game when he answered the door. Police said an Ohio gamer recruited Barriss to “swat” – or report a false emergency call to get authorities to descend on an address.
However, the address they used was old.
The intended target in Wichita, Shane Gaskill, 20, and the man who allegedly recruited Barriss, Casey Viner, 19, of North College Hill, Ohio, are charged as co-conspirators.
Authorities say Viner provided Barriss with an address for Gaskill that Gaskill had previously given to Viner. Authorities also say that when Gaskill noticed Barriss was following him on Twitter, he gave Barriss that old address and taunted him to "try something."
Viner and Gaskill pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud and other counts. 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.
Finch's family has sued the city of Wichita and the unidentified officers involved. Police have said the officer who shot Finch thought he was reaching for a gun because he moved a hand toward his waistband. Prosecutors declined to charge the officer.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized swatting as an emerging threat as early as 2008, noting it had become commonplace among gamers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.