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Swatting---the act of making a hoax 911 call in the hope it will lead to armed responders turning up at an address---has been around for a while. But on Thursday, what's thought to be the first ever swatting-related fatality took place. One day after the incident, the man who allegedly made the prank call was arrested.
25-year-old Tyler Barriss was taken into custody over his alleged role in the death of 28-year-old Andy Finch, a father-of-two from Wichita, Kansas.
The incident was reportedly the result of a $1.50 wagered Call Of Duty online match, with two players on the same team apparently blaming each other for their loss, but what makes this even more tragic is that Finch had no involvement in the match or the argument that ensued.
One of the COD players, who used the Twitter handle @SWauTistic, threatened to swat a user called @7aLeNT. The latter player dared @SWauTistic to "please try some shit," and even provided an address to do so, but it wasn't his own.
@SWauTistic, believing this really was @7aLeNT's home, called the Kansas police and informed them that a domestic dispute incident was taking place at the West McCormick Street address. He told the 911 dispatcher that he had shot his father in the head and was holding his mother, brother, and sister hostage. @SWauTistic also threatened to burn the house down.
'That was the information we were working off of,' Deputy Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston told to the Wichita Eagle.
Armed police quickly arrived at the address expecting a hostage situation, but it was an unsuspecting Finch who answered the door. According to Livingston, Finch was ordered to put his arms in the air but instead moved a hand toward his waistband. One officer, convinced that the father was reaching for a gun, fired a single round. Finch died within minutes. His mother, Lisa Finch, said the whole family was made to step outside barefoot into the cold, and that her granddaughter was forced to step over her dying uncle. She insisted that Andy wasn't a gamer; it appears the address was one chosen at random by @7aLeNT.
Finch had no weapon on him at the time he was shot. The officer who fired the shot has been placed on administrative leave.
A day later, police arrested Barriss, who is suspected to be @SWauTistic. As his username suggests, he is a serial swatter and also claims credit for a number of hoax bomb threats, including one targeting the offices of an ABC affiliate in Los Angeles in 2015, and the recent hoax that delayed the FCC's Net Neutrality vote. He's been arrested twice before, once for a bomb hoax.
Speaking before the arrest during an interview with YouTube channel DramaAlert, a person claiming to be Barriss said: "It's my personal belief that I didn't cause someone to die."
"The call was made by me, but as far as the whole incident, you could point the finger at a few different people. You could point the finger at the cop that shot him. You could point the finger at the guy who made the call. You could point the finger at the person that gave the address."
Barriss was equally unapologetic on Twitter. After posting,"That kids house that I swatted is on the news," he sent out another tweet that read: "I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION."
Police say the FBI is now involved in the case.