In brief: ‘Swatting’ is the practice of making a hoax call to the emergency services in order to trick them into turning up at another person’s address. It’s a tactic the FBI have known about for more than a decade. Wichita resident Andrew Finch tragically lost his life due to swatting in 2017, but justice has now been served as the hoaxer has been sentenced to 20 years.
Fifteen months after the most infamous instance of ‘swatting’ drew the world’s attention to the practice, Tyler Barriss – the man who made the hoax call – has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
On December 28 2017, two men’s $1.50 wager on Call of Duty: WWII escalated to the point of tragedy. Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill had been playing on the same team when an argument about friendly-fire culminated in Viner threatening to ‘swat’ Gaskill. Gaskill tauntingly provided an address, but unbeknownst to Viner, it was a previous home.
Viner contacted Tyler Barriss – known online as “SWAuTistic” – and provided the address he thought was Gaskill’s. Barriss informed 911 that he had fatally shot his father and was holding other family members hostage – prompting a swift armed response from the Wichita police.
Andrew Finch was the current resident of the address given. He opened the door having heard a commotion outside, only to be fatally shot by Officer Justin Rapp.
Now, according to Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren has sentenced Barriss to 20 years, under a deal where Barriss pleaded guilty to 51 federal charges for fake calls and bomb threats. It’s the longest sentence ever reported following ‘swatting’.
Viner and Gaskill, the two original players, have each been charged as co-conspirators, but have not yet been sentenced. But Sedgwick County District Attourney Marc Bennett has said that Justin Rapp, who shot the unarmed Finch, will not be prosecuted. He said, “I am very much sympathetic to the Finch family, but at the end of the day my determination has to be in what the law allows.”