It appears Andrew Finch’s ‘swatting’ death began with an online session of ‘Call of Duty: WWII.’ It’s a violent video game designed to emulate combat as seen from a soldier’s point of view.
But, no one is supposed to die – not in real life.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles prosecutors filed a warrant aimed at sending Tyler Barriss, 25, a California man suspected of swatting Finch, to Sedgwick County, Kansas to face a felony false alarm charge.
Swatting is the act of making a false police report – usually of an urgent or violent crime – to lure law enforcement or SWAT teams to a location.
Barriss waived extradition at his hearing. Wearing a dark hoodie, he spoke sparsely, providing only brief responses to a judge’s questions.
He will remain in a Los Angeles jail without bail. Kansas authorities will transport him between January 17 and February 2 to Wichita.
After Barriss arrives, he will have a first appearance in district court and the charging document outlining the allegations against him will become public, said Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett in a statement.
Responding to a false report of a domestic shooting and hostage situation, allegedly made by Barriss on December 28, police arrived and fatally shot 28-year-old Finch after he opened the front door of his family’s home.
An officer opened fire on Finch after he moved his hands to his waistline, said Wichita police Deputy Chief Troy Livingston. Finch died at a hospital.
“He said it was stupid”
A man who claims to know Barriss through the gaming community told CNN an argument ensued after a ‘Call of Duty’ match and one of the gamers involved reached out to Barriss to request he swat the other gamer. The source did not want to give his name for fear of reprisal from the gaming community.
Like many video games, ‘Call of Duty’ has a multiplayer mode that allows gamers around the world to interact online in the same game simultaneously.
Asked why Barriss was given the Wichita address – Finch’s family said he wasn’t a gamer and, thus, not the intended target – the source said he didn’t know but Barriss “was known in the gaming community for doing stuff like that.”
Another gamer who said he had known Barriss since 2015 added “I was in shock, so I messaged him asking him why he’d do that and what’s wrong with him and stuff… He said it was stupid and he shouldn’t have done it, but I didn’t care. He’s a grown man who’s done this stuff before.”
Police confirm Barriss was jailed in 2015 for making a bomb threat to a television station, and the two acquaintances who know Barriss through the gaming community said his Twitter handle was @SWAuTistic. The account has now been suspended, but a cached copy of tweets included multiple references to swatting. In a December 22 tweet, he said he was “thinking about swatting” the FBI headquarters.
Mom wants stiff charges
After Wichita police issued a fugitive warrant, Barriss was arrested Friday by the Los Angeles Police Department, some 1,400 miles west of Wichita, Los Angeles, said Police Officer Mike Lopez.
Prosecutors filed a “fugitive from justice warrant” Wednesday, aimed at sending Barriss to Kansas to face charges in Finch’s death.
During the swatting call, Barriss allegedly said he shot his father in the head, his father wasn’t breathing, he was holding his mother and little brother in a closet at gunpoint and he might soon set the house ablaze.
“So, that’s the information we were working off of,” Livingston said. “Our officers came here preparing for a hostage situation. Several got in position. A male came to the front door, and one of our officers discharged his weapon.”
Police blame prankster’s 911 call
Finch was not armed, and nobody was found dead at the home, Livingston said. He called the shooting “tragic and senseless.”
“The irresponsible actions of a prankster put people’s lives at risk,” he said. “Due to the actions of a prankster, we have an innocent victim. If the false police call had not been made, we would not have been there.”
But, the victim’s mother said police also share the blame.
“The cops are trying to make this go away, and it’s not going to go away. People aren’t going to let it,” Lisa Finch told KAKE.
On Tuesday, she wrote a letter to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and Police Chief Gordon Ramsay saying her “heart was not eased” by Ramsay’s unannounced Sunday visit nor by the “empty hand extended and the questions left unanswered.”
Among the questions, she said, are: What is the name of the officer who killed her son? Why was her family, including a teen granddaughter, handcuffed after the shooting? And, what is Wichita police protocol for swatting calls?
Her attorney, Andrew Stroth, told CNN this week the officer who shot Andrew Finch should be held liable as should the city and police department “because of their policies and practices.”
“Swatting is not new, just like prank calling is not new,” Stroth said.