A 28-year-old Kansas man was shot and killed by police officers on the evening of Dec. 28 after someone fraudulently reported a hostage situation ongoing at his home. The false report was the latest in a dangerous hoax known as “swatting,” wherein the perpetrator falsely reports a dangerous situation at an address with the goal of prompting authorities to respond to that address with deadly force. This particular swatting reportedly originated over a $1.50 wagered match in the online game Call of Duty. Compounding the tragedy is that the man killed was an innocent party who had no part in the dispute.
The following is an analysis of what is known so far about the incident, as well as a brief interview with the alleged and self-professed perpetrator of this crime.
It appears that the dispute and subsequent taunting originated on Twitter. One of the parties to that dispute — allegedly using the Twitter handle “SWauTistic” — threatened to swat another user who goes by the nickname “7aLeNT“. @7aLeNT dared someone to swat him, but then tweeted an address that was not his own.
Swautistic responded by falsely reporting to the Kansas police a domestic dispute at the address 7aLenT posted, telling the authorities that one person had already been murdered there and that several family members were being held hostage.
A story in the Wichita Eagle says officers responded to the 1000 block of McCormick and got into position, preparing for a hostage situation.
“A male came to the front door,” Livingston said. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.”
“Livingston didn’t say if the man, who was 28, had a weapon when he came to the door, or what caused the officer to shoot the man. Police don’t think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man, who has not been identified by police, died at a local hospital.
“A family member identified that man who was shot by police as Andrew Finch. One of Finch’s cousins said Finch didn’t play video games.”
Not long after that, Swautistic was back on Twitter saying he could see on television that the police had fallen for his swatting attack. When it became apparent that a man had been killed as a result of the swatting, Swautistic tweeted that he didn’t get anyone killed because he didn’t pull the trigger (see image above).
Swautistic soon changed his Twitter handle to @GoredTutor36, but KrebsOnSecurity managed to obtain several weeks’ worth of tweets from Swautistic before his account was renamed. Those tweets indicate that Swautistic is a serial swatter — meaning he has claimed responsibility for a number of other recent false reports to the police.
Among the recent hoaxes he’s taken credit for include a false report of a bomb threat at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that disrupted a high-profile public meeting on the net neutrality debate. Swautistic also has claimed responsibility for a hoax bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the Dallas Convention Center, and another bomb threat at a high school in Panama City, Fla, among others.
After tweeting about the incident extensively this afternoon, KrebsOnSecurity was contacted by someone in control of the @GoredTutor36 Twitter account. GoredTutor36 said he’s been the victim of swatting attempts himself, and that this was the reason he decided to start swatting others.
He said the thrill of it “comes from having to hide from police via net connections.” Asked about the FCC incident, @GoredTutor36 acknowledged it was his bomb threat. “Yep. Raped em,” he wrote.
“Bomb threats are more fun and cooler than swats in my opinion and I should have just stuck to that,” he wrote. “But I began making $ doing some swat requests.”
Asked whether he feels remorse about the Kansas man’s death, he responded “of course I do.”
But evidently not enough to make him turn himself in.
“I won’t disclose my identity until it happens on its own,” the user said in a long series of direct messages on Twitter. “People will eventually (most likely those who know me) tell me to turn myself in or something. I can’t do that; though I know its [sic] morally right. I’m too scared admittedly.”
Update, 7:15 p.m.: A recording of the call to 911 operators that prompted this tragedy can be heard at this link. The playback of the recorded emergency calls starts around 10 minutes into the video.
Update, Dec. 30, 8:06 a.m. ET: Police in Los Angeles reportedly have arrested 25-year-old Tyler Raj Barriss in connection with the swatting attack.
As a victim of my own swatting attack back in 2013, I’ve been horrified to watch these crimes only increase in frequency ever since — usually with little or no repercussions for the person or persons involved in setting the schemes in motion. Given that the apparent perpetrator of this crime seems eager for media attention, it seems likely he will be apprehended soon. My guess is that he is a minor and will be treated with kid gloves as a result, although I hope I’m wrong on both counts.
Let me be crystal clear on a couple of points. First off, there is no question that police officers and first responders across the country need a great deal more training to bring the number of police shootings way down. That is undoubtedly a giant contributor to the swatting epidemic.
Also, all police officers and dispatchers need to be trained on what swatting is, how to spot the signs of a hoax, and how to minimize the risk of anyone getting harmed when responding to reports about hostage situations or bomb threats. Finally, officers of the peace who are sworn to protect and serve should use deadly force only in situations where there is a clear and immediate threat. Those who jump the gun need to be held accountable as well.
But that kind of reform isn’t going to happen overnight. Meanwhile, knowingly and falsely making a police report that results in a SWAT unit or else heavily armed police response at an address is an invitation for someone to get badly hurt or killed. These are high-pressure situations and in most cases — as in this incident — the person opening the door has no idea what’s going on. Heaven protect everyone at the scene if the object of the swatting attack is someone who is already heavily armed and confused enough about the situation to shoot anything that comes near his door.
In some states, filing a false police report is just a misdemeanor and is mainly punishable by fines. However, in other jurisdictions filing a false police report is a felony, and I’m afraid it’s long past time for these false reports about dangerous situations to become a felony offense in every state. Here’s why.
If making a fraudulent report about a hostage situation or bomb threat is a felony, then if anyone dies as a result of that phony report they can legally then be charged with felony murder. Under the doctrine of felony murder, when an offender causes the death of another (regardless of intent) in the commission of a dangerous crime, he or she is guilty of murder.
Too often, however, the perpetrators of these crimes are minors, and even when they’re caught they are frequently given a slap on the wrist. Swatting needs to stop, and unfortunately as long as there are few consequences for swatting someone, it will continue to be a potentially deadly means for gaining e-fame and for settling childish and pointless ego squabbles.
Book ‘im, Danno — then throw the entire set of lawbooks at him and put him away for a long, long time (with no access to a computer while in prison).
And the guy who instigated all of this? Considering the ferocity of his taunts and threats, he obviously has severe mental issues. He manipulated several situations and appears to have received a great deal of satisfaction from the outcome. On top of that he claims he is responsible but not accountable. No shame at all. I wonder how his family and friends are responding.
Possibly the family and friends (if any) have disowned him and want nothing to do with him other than to get him treatment and assist with finding him legal counsel. Considering the amount of social media harassment people dole out now days, no doubt they will pay for his actions as well.
Unfortunately regardless of the cause of the shooting, the cop will have to live with it the rest of his/her life. Knowing that harden military combat troops frequently have problems with PTSD and other issues, surely cops involved in incidents even when the shooting is justified have to carry a huge emotional burden due to their involvement. The families pay the biggest price of course, but even if the cop is cleared, there is a big price. No doubt the cop may question why he didn’t use mace, taser or some other method rather than shooting and have to live with this.
It was pointed out to me by an old time reporter that “dog bites man” is not a story. “Man bites dog” is a story. It is the outliers that make the news. The problem is that invariably due to the immediacy, the initial press reports do not have all the information, may have inaccurate information and don’t begin to tell the entire story. Some people shoot off their mouths (keyboards) before getting the entire story. The ole shoot and ask questions later approach. So having a debate on whose fault the death is, really is very pointless and damaging in terms of getting at the truth of what actually happened.
My own thought is that this country has thousands of law enforcement depts. Some of them esp in the big cities deal with stuff like this very frequently and have cops with regular experience in dealing with high stress situation. Plus I’m guessing that larger depts have much better access to sophisticated training. Around here (Dallas, TX area), the wealthier suburbs get their “pick of the litter” as the pay is better, working conditions less stressful and they do not have the issues that big cities experience. The last chief of police in Dallas made a point of training his cops to de-escalate domestic situations and it resulted in far fewer incidents such as this. Yet, there have still been incidents.
What? The Trumpeltier has NOT twitcherd yet?
Something is wrong with this country……
Did you know that the “doctrine of felony murder” does is not used when people are killed by drunk drivers? Apparently many states the prosecutors choose that DUI/DWI drivers do not have to serve life in prison when they murder innocent people; even though DUI/DWI in those very states are felonies.
but shouldn’t reckless drivers like people who text/use the phone and kill someone also not be charged with felony murder?
A minor getting a shorter sentence is usually appropriate. People make decisions at age 15 they would not make at 20, and the make decisions at 20 that they would not make at 30. That’s why you can’t even rent a car until you’re 25.
What IS the problem is that this kid has been publicly announcing his SWATs and bomb threats, even disrupting a federal proceeding, and yet no one intervened before someone got killed.
It’s not that hard to find out who controls a Twitter account; Brian tracks down people who think they’re anonymous on the internet all the time.
A slap on the wrist after the first instance, like having his family lose their cable and internet access, would have stopped it very quickly. But we’ve got a justice system incentivized to allow minor crimes to continue until someone crosses a line too far and we consider the expense of prosecution justified — meaning we all have to live with a constant background of minor crimes, and we always have to fear the regular killings.
A depraved heart never grows up.
Fry ’em. Nice and crispy.
I’m sure your opinion is supported by an entire body of psychological research. Oh wait, no it isn’t.
Sure it is:
“…in one of the few long-term follow-up studies of men with antisocial personality disorder showed that while the men had reduced their impulsive behaviour (and hence their criminality) with the passage of time, they continued to have significant interpersonal problems throughout their lives (Paris, 2003).”
Most research over the past several decades have found similar results. Impulsivity and substance abuse can sometimes be improved, but only because it’s beneficial for the sociopath.
I like the “family loses access to the Internet” penalty, but it’s very hard to administer these days; everyone will revert to tethered Smartphone, neighboring wiFi, etc.
AlphaCentauri you make an excellent point. What can bystanders do in this case?
The platforms could take action. But what could another twitter user do?
In physical space communities can intervene. I do not see how it is possible to develop community oversight in corporate virtual domains, except if driven by the platform itself. And that has its own problems.
Jurisdictional issues are huge in these cases and expert resources are meager. As much as I’ve opposed the federalization of crime in the U.S., swatting may be a criminal activity that has to be raised to that level to allow swift investigations across all jurisdictions and uniform penalties.
Wrangling resources will remain a problem since most swatting incidents don’t result in deaths and federal law enforcement agencies are already leaning hard on task forces made up of state and local law enforcement officers who do work the feds can’t otherwise staff. But hey, the Koch Brothers need a tax cut, folks!
This kid should be put away along with his parents. That he is taking no responsibility says all we need to know. Even teenagers can take responsibility when their actions cause harm to others. They learn these things from their parents. At this point the kid is hopeless and needs to go along with those who raised him so wrong.
I don’t think 25 years old is considered a kid, even by our most relaxed standards.
“This kid should be put away along with his parents.”
The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son…
The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son…”
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment
Lock them all up.
Yes, but thankfully we’re not in fucking tribal Africa either and you can’t liberally apply a crime to a whole family for no reason.
1st Amendment covers establishment of a state religion, does not prohibit personal use and declaration of religion, but is rather designed to support it. It is interesting that in this case WM used the Bible to support his case, a case that I suspect that Dr. Honeycutt agrees with. WM’s argument is exactly what the 1st A. was designed to support. 1st A. does not guarantee freedom FROM religion, was never intended as such.
And the cop should get the gas chamber. For murder.
Sorry, disagreed. But the person set up the cop to do his dirty work. Not the cops fault, but excited cops do overkill. And the caller pushed all the right buttons for a bad outcome. Just hope it didn’t waste a good cop.
“Sorry, disagreed. But the person set up the cop to do his dirty work. Not the cops fault, but excited cops do overkill. And the caller pushed all the right buttons for a bad outcome. Just hope it didn’t waste a good cop.”
i disagree, the cop shot the guy as soon as opened the door. i don’t think the cop should get the death penalty like the other commenters, but he should be fired at least and charged with negligent homicide or be sued for wrongful death in a civil court. As for the ‘exicited cops do overkill’ is exactly why this cop should be punished,the reason swatting is so dangerous is because they know how crazy cops are. at times i don’t even look at cops as humans, they are basically nitroglycerin
Both the murder happy dirty cop and Tyler Raj Barriss should be set on fire. 🙁 both are the same kind of people.
That sounds an awful lot like North Korea
“This kid should be put away along with his parents.”
1. He’s not a kid.
2. You seem to be suffering under the delusion that children always do what their parents teach them to do and not do.
Can we shame your parents for your very shallow, poorly-thought-out comment? By your logic, it’s all their fault.
People tend to always look outward concerning these things. I tend to look inward. I never look to government to have the integrity to do anything good or right. The way to prevent being slaughtered by cop is to fortify your home. I am installing protective decorative iron gates inside each door, as well as inside of all windows like they do in Central and South America. This is mainly to try to burglar proof the house. But it also gives you a chance to negotiate cop into a reasonable state of mind. There was a recent case where the cops went to the wrong address. When the owner told them they had the wrong address and refused to let them in, the cops decided that they were coming in anyway. It took the idiots 45 minutes to break down the bars around his back door.
Another example. I used to have to fly 1 to 3 times a week. Just after 911, I was checking into an airline and my alarm clock set off the bomb sniffer due to the clock having a phosphorus dial. The airline finally figured out the problem after 30 minutes, although I had pointed out what the problem was at the outset. This airline subsequently put me on a watch list. I couldn’t fly on their and one other airline that used their computer system without going through four security checks. I quit that job and haven’t flown commercially since (11 years now). I am in the process of getting a private pilots license now.
You have to take care of yourself. Forget about the laborious track of getting others to change.
Dear Mr. Krebs,
as a non-US citizen and rationalist, I can only shake my head after reading your posting.
The whole US is absolutely inhumane. It is not only the sole country that has ever thrown two nuclear bombs on civilian cities, permanently poisoned millions of innocents with Agent Orange and then used radionuclear weapons again (“DU ammunition”).
The US is also amongst the few countries in the world, where absolutely disgusting penalties are handed out like cotton candy by a judiciary elite that considers itself far above any law. Just review Antonin Scalia and the likes.
In California, for example, there are thousands of people being incarcerated for decades in disgracing conditions for the possession of Cannabis, which is now de facto legal, but nontheless their sentences are upheld.
Rather than shouting for even more sentencing and an even harsher interpretation of the already absurd US criminal “law”, you should make up your mind regarding the single common denominator of about 50% of the supreme court judges, the FED chiefs who rule your country and the financial elite which subdues you and the other USA citzens.
This elite uses a hyperbrutal “police” that shoots basically anyone they want, on sight and with impunity. USA citizens are living in a constant state of fear. I suggest the very good book “Three Felonies a Day” as a starting point for further investigation.
As a human being, I feel deeply ashamed for your call to basically murder Tyler Raj Barriss by having him convicted as a murderer – which means either execution or a life sentence. If you mind to remember, it was a “SWAT” stooge of the financial elite that fired the deadly shot at the victim. I wonder why – if you already propose to convict Tyler Barriss as a murderer – you don’t ask the actual shooter to be convicted as a murderer as well.
I guess we both know the reason. The system already oppresses you so thoroughly, that you won’t ever ask for the prosecution of parts of the system and single out individuals instead, who are themselves helpless against the executive hordes.
“as a non-US citizen”
“USA citizens are living in a constant state of fear.”
Wouldn’t a US citizen be more qualified to make judgements about this? I’m one yet I’m not constantly afraid.
Want to get even more annoyed at the US legal system?
Look into Miller v. Alabama and the 2016 revision that made it retroactive. Keep in mind the loophole they gave that it can be applied to “rare” offenders. 60% of offenders in Michigan are being retried under the new standard. 60% = rare.
Prosecutors are the problem with the US system. When they win cases they get ahead. They don’t care about whether the case is just, or fair, or even makes sense. They just want to put people behind bars to advance their career, for their personal gain. And there is virtually no downside for them, prosecutorial misconduct is rarely charged and a conviction is virtually unheard of, because they enjoy a broad immunity from prosecution. They have to both be ridiculously corrupt and fundamentally incompetent to get caught, much less convicted.
“Dear Mr. Krebs,
as a non-US citizen and rationalist, I can only shake my head after reading your posting.
The whole US is absolutely inhumane.”
[ blah blah blah ]
Felony Murder is different than a charge of murder (1st or 2nd degree). A conviction of felony murder would not lead to either the death penalty or a life sentence (no parole), though it could come with a lengthy sentence. Note: this guy has apparently done this before. Felony murder is usually used for robbery where an accomplice kills someone. The accomplice is charged with murder but the other guy might get charged with felony murder. An innocent person gets killed during the commission of crime you were committing, though you didn’t do the killing.
“The whole US is absolutely inhumane. ”
No. This house is VERY humane.
That is all I should need to say. Adjust your view before you open your mouth. Thank you.
“Deeply ashamed that he called for the murder” of someone? He did not even remotely imply that. You’re using hyperbole to drive a point that isn’t even relevant. Get off your soap box.
Sorry, but you don’t get to call yourself a “rationalist” while making a blanket generalization against an entire nation and its people.
Tyler’s a murderer, will be tried as a murderer. Hopefully gets life in prison or the death penalty. Deal with it. He didn’t fire the shot, but he aimed the weapon, thankfully our courts aren’t quite as delusional as internet commenters.
“Tyler’s a murderer, will be tried as a murderer.”
You write this because:
“Tyler falsely reported to the Kansas police a domestic dispute at the address 7aLenT posted”
and the great and honorable Kansas police subsequently:
“shot and killed an innocent 28-year-old Kansas man”
Logic, oh logic…
Just for your information: the police regularly shoots and kills innocent people even if they were NOT “swatted”.
But you American guys apparently are not able to grasp what the mere existence of the word “swatting” sais about the state of your whole government, society and hyperbrutal police state…
On the other hand, the USA people slaughter innocents all over the world, the most recent episode being in Syria and Iraq – so there is no reason to feel with you, when you’re doing the same thing to yourself.
Keep on going, buddy! Ask for harsher, harsher and harsher punishments. After all, that’s all that can make you guys happy.
Regarding your quote “thankfully our courts aren’t quite as delusional as internet commenters”: these very courts are complete puppets of the financial elite and of course they will judge just as you expect them to judge. They will always reign down with maximum violence on civilians, and always show maximum lenience with their own, be it cops, corrupt politicians or members of the financial elite.
The shooter/murderer will get nothing, the guy who did a phone call will get a life sentence and grunts like you will be happy and carry on as satisfied milk-cows or rather tax-payers for the elite.
Let’s be specific here.
Tyler Raj Barriss reportedly initiated a false police report with the expectation that someone would be assaulted and/or injured, at the very least recklessly endangering someone else’s life, and at the very most, expecting that person would get killed.
Since someone was actually killed as a result of this false report, Tyler Raj Barriss is complicit in the death of another person due to reckless and intentional action.
That’s involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, filing a false police report, at the very least. It could be full manslaughter and with only a little stretch, murder.
In any case, it’s deserving of a criminal conviction and sentencing. This man’s actions directly led to another human being put into harm’s way, and he is as responsible for the outcome as the officer who fired the weapon.
If you were aware of the full details and understood what “swatting” entails you would realize that not only was he a repeat false caller but that “domestic dispute” is a grand understatement. Tyler called the police with the intent of invoking a heavy police response. The recording of his actual call shows that in his report he falsely told the police that the innocent man was holding his family hostage and had already murdered his father. Tyler specifically tailored his call to invoke the heaviest response which inherently decreases reaction time and increases pressure on officers. The officers were given a split second decision on a foundation of information created with the sole purpose of making the innocent man appear to be incredibly dangerous. The result of this mix is tragic and Tyler deserves to be prosecuted as an adult who is responsible for that mans death.
Oh, the inhumanity.
Just take your pills and if you wish, end all of your hurt.
Meanwhile, we will enjoy this country, which needs to have some more self-control and soon. On all sides.
We will talk through it, push some people into jail, hopefully let some losers commit solitary suicide , and everything is going to be just fine. You all outside of the USA mind your own business. And we will try to mind our own. I promise. I can’t promise immediate change, but I can promise we aren’t all ignorant. Thank you.
Some of these comments are from huge centers in the desert where Zionist shills try to troll us.
Americans always say guns don’t kill people, people do. So in this case the people is a cop. He pulled the trigger, and is guilty of murder.
But the cops are above the law. Any other would be in jail right now, he is just stacking papers.
Us is a police state, and cops are terrorists, that must eradicated.
you suck as a troll, and have no clue what reality is vs what you see on the fake news.
My comment was @ Johan
What’s most urgently needed is a federal law that prohibits any and all online impersonation, requires those hosting their accounts to terminate their services and erase their posts when reported by the victim, and strips CDA protection from the latter if they refuse. The prime offender in these matters is Gmail, which not only refuses to implement anti impersonation policies but fraudulently claims to be “unable to mediate” even though other branches of g**GLE banned impersonation years ago
What’s needed is an update of our antiquated caller id system. These idiots wouldn’t be pulling this crap if they had their actual address attached.
Please speak to the FCC about this? I have often wondered why it is that criminals are allowed to spoof phone numbers of my locale. When clearly if they were in my locale they would have already been fed to the hogs. LOL
In most cases the phone companies can detect and deal with spoofed caller ID. However, as common carriers they cannot legally block or throttle such calls under the FCC call completion rules. The rules were relaxed in 2017 to allow for some blocking but have not been implemented network wide. I am not sure if the rule will apply to 911 calls anyway because of the possibility of a false positive.
While this youg man is absolutely culpable… we can’t overlook the actions of the police in this situation. The use of tactical response teams has grown exponentially over the past 30 years… going from a few hundred instances nationwide to tens of thousands. It has become the default response to almost any situation. While the person who called in the fake report absolutely holds responsibility, the over use of SWAT teams in recent years definitively contributed to this happening. It does not take away the criminality of this young man’s act – but it does hint that a reassessment of how such calls are handled in the future is needed by police agencies across the country.
Its a perfect storm. Increasingly militarized police forces (Frankly, posse comitas is as good as dead in the US) and vicious little snots calling in swats. Its almost a surprise that more of these deaths havent happened
Where in the world would you call the police lie about a felony and expect some innocent to get killed? The US, anywhere else no one will ever be killed and the police would concentrate in tracing back the prankster.
Another reason to consider how a flawed misinterpretation of the Second Amendment by the Supreme Court is making the US one of the unsafest countries in the western world for its own citizens.
You would think that someone who was found guilty of such crimes (as this person was) would have been held liable for the cost of these operations at minimum, let alone have their social media activities be restricted/monitored.
Why is it so difficult for police to know when they receive a swatting call? Presumably the calls do not originate on landlines. I do realize that time is an important factor in 911 calls, but the phones physical location should not be too difficult to ascertain, and if GPS or location is turned off (how many non tech users actually do that) the chances are the call is swatting. In the event of location being turned off, send officers to the address informing them that this may be a potential swatting. Please let me know where this suggestion is flawed. Thanks.
Mostly the incoming call is hard to characterize because the caller uses a caller ID spoofing service.
Very few legitimate calls to 911 would have a reason to spoof – it would seem that it would be good to know if a call is being spoofed, even though this could still be the MO of a terrorist.
I get spoofed local numbers all the time. Typically its some scam and they spoof local numbers in hopes you will answer. Yes, I agree that 911 should have the capability to detect a indirect spoofed number.
Would it be possible for the cell tower that the call is going through to include location information, that could not be spoofed? Seems like knowing the closest cell tower, especially with 911 calls might be useful.
Why does your article say, Dec. 17?
the “17” indicates 2017
This was a tragedy waiting to happen.
This kids lucky Swatting isnt a felony. Felony + Somebody dies can trigger capital murder charges in some places, and coupled with a furious jury looking for an example to be made, could bode very very poorly. And even without the capital murder trigger, if he’s a serial offender, it’d trigger 3 strikes in other states.
Oh he’ll get a nasty sentence, assuming he hasnt got access to a very high powered lawyer.
First time I ever read something on swatting. My first impression is that these people need to come out of the basement and start living real lives and not try and make up stuff in hopes of making the news. The Police have enough real problems to deal with, and frankly we should deal with this swatting as a more serious crime. Its way more of a threat then making a prank 911 call. If many of these are done by “kids” then where in the world is the parents when this stuff goes on? I guess they buy the kids a console as a baby sitter so they don’t have to deal with what they do.
I hate to say it, but the guy that did this is correct in laying the blame at the feet of the SWAT team. They are supposed to be all professional just so they can avoid making mistakes like this. If they are too scared or too trigger happy to fulfill this basic mission requirement, then they need to do something else for a living.
Apparently the swatter used spoofed caller-ID. This brings up the very important issue that it is easy to spoof caller-ID, and it should be very hard.
One need not hack into a computer system to do this. If you get your VOIP (Internet telephone) service from any of a number of providers, you can provide any caller information you choose. This is, apparently, how spam callers from India have numbers from your local area code and prefix.
That is due to a very serious weakness in the design of caller ID systems, a weakness that should be fixed ASAP. The system is design on trust, an assumption that simply does not work with modern technology.
Reportedly, a fix is expected in 5 years, because it is hard.
As a technologist with experience in designing and coding communications systems, I disagree. Regulators need to starting charging big fines on any system operator who allows spoofed caller ID’s, and do so with, say, a one year warning. Those businesses who really cannot fix the system in 5 years should be allowed to die a rapid death.
And yes, this requires technical standards to be changed – and the prospect of these fines should force always-bureaucratic standards bodies to fix speed up.
BIG RED FLAG.
The “911” recording?
How did someone from California manage to dial a Kansas local 911 number?
(or was it a regular phone number plumbed into the 911 system)
I didn’t think it would be possible or at least very difficult without creating a SIP phone account with the right zip code.
So, “911” is a special number with special properties (including afaiu, some protections against caller id spoofing), but at the end of the day, “911” calls route to a PSAP . When we talk about a “911” operator, we’re probably talking about someone in a PSAP. (Which is sexier “911 operator” or “PSAP operator”?)
But, if you call a non emergency number and declare an emergency, you’re going to be routed to the PSAP (because they want to handle the call, rather than risking someone hanging up and not being able to connect again) — or if you call it directly, one of the many risks covered in an article by Wired in 2014 .
…. When someone calls a number that is “non-emergency”, that number doesn’t have 911’s “special properties” — it probably isn’t protected against call spoofing.
Caller ID has all sorts of flaws. In this case, I suspect that at most this attacker (and we should call him that, not a prankster, he actively orchestrated an attack) appears to have used his own voice (and probably VoIP) to reach the “911 operator”.
From a practical perspective, the way people think about phone numbers is unfortunately totally incorrect. Most people assume that each wire leading to each building represents a single phone number and can’t ever change. But that isn’t how things work. And really, it never worked like that.
In the old days, there were “party lines”, a line that might be wired to perhaps 5 different houses sharing a phone number. That was a cooperative line (with some geographic distribution).
But, let’s say you have an office with 10 desk phones, and you want to pay for 3 lines of phone service. How do you expect this works? Should the first desk get the first number, the second the second number, the third the third number, what number do you give the fourth? Clearly you can’t use a one-to-one mapping. Instead, usually you have a system where phone calls route to a box, and it “switches” the calls to a desk for incoming. But what about outgoing? Obviously if 4 people try to call from 4 desks, someone will have to wait. But if you have a “main number”, do you really want people to randomly see each of 3 random phone numbers? No, you want everyone to see your call as coming from your canonical “main number”, and the PBX system enables this as part of the friendly form of caller id.
That’s a single office with a single site, but what if you have employees who switch between two sites? Do you want people to see two numbers? One for each site? That’s confusing. No, you want a single number, and again the PBX/caller id system support this.
This all more or less predates modern cell phones.
Cell phones are obviously mobile, but really, PBX systems also meant that a phone number was “mobile”.
Also, with the advent number portability , there’s really very little that ties a number to a space (in the old days, an area code/local exchange did that in the US ).
I think there are some proposals for “this number can not be spoofed” , but deploying anything will probably take ~5 years.
The reason that “false police reports” isn’t a felony or serious crime here in California is that women’s rights groups lobby every time this comes up. They claim that criminalizing false police reports will discourage women from reporting sexual assault. Women don’t care how many men die or about the truth of sexual assault claims.
“I didn’t think it would be possible or at least very difficult without creating a SIP phone account with the right zip code.”
You must be entirely new.
Number spoofing is trivial.
Also, if you listen to the 911 call he made (a link to it is in the article above) you can hear he called in to a non-emergency number, and they called him back on a phone number he gave. He did that because he wasn’t able to reach the Kansas police by just dialing 911 (which should have been a red flag).
Thanks BK I missed that update since the first pass.
1st call was “city hall security”, 911 called his number back and I guess that’s him giving his voice in extended fashion. Not a genius, but it’s enough to exploit the vulnerability in realtime.
It crossed state lines, doesn’t that imply felony by itself as well?
Not to mention the priors. He’s set for a good while I hope.
It makes me think just how much a dedicated effort could achieve in real-world problems for LEO, were that their specific intent as opposed to some Call o’ Duty prankster idiot wanting his opponent to be hassled. What if anything can be done proactively? A penny for your thoughts.
I just wanna know how they knew who made the call after killing a man, but not before to arrest the guy. With all the technology we have 911 and police can’t tell that a call is coming from another state or number than the address ? Jesus. Yet they know who it was after ?
Sometime it’s really amazing how far stupidity can go.
How hard is it to understand what is going to happen if “swatting” becomes a felony like murder offense? In USA guns are allowed so cops are taking all calls about hostages very seriously and that can provoke incidents. The only thing that actually saves from those incidents to happen is as much of common sense as cops may have themselves. In other words – they are not robots, they will try not to shoot s0 not to kill innocent people and not to get blamed in murder.
You make swatting a felony and the next thing happening is that cops will have much more assurance that they can shoot everyone on spot, because if its a fake call than theoretically they are not to blame if someone was killed. Therefore swatting simply will become much more effective. As for possible murder accusations for swatters – does anyone think they will care? If they would care about for consequences they would obviously not even start such a thing, what they would care about though is getting less caught for it, make it more anonymous.
Swatting would stop only if it would not work all. Then nobody would even try to call with a fake hostage situation. But if you accept legislation which ultimately will make police actions even less accountable, then you will simply get more calls like this eventually, whatever punishment you introduce for the call.
-“John we have a call here from mr Krebs house, someone says there is KGB and aliens from Mars there keeping him and his dogs hostages. Speaks with a voice of 12 year old kid from Kiev. Should we check?”
-“Nah, just blow the damn house with an air strike. Gotta teach those prankers a lesson. Gonna get lifetime sentences if its a prank of course”.
Finally, someone who understands that it is the laws that permit police to act with impunity and with militaristic tactics that perpetuates these events.
Remove the laws that allow police to handcuff families, demand citizens obey commands issued by police across the street, and exempt police from laws applied to ordinary citizens.
Maybe 3 or 4 police will die each year, but hundreds more citizens will live each year who are wrongfully murdered by police without accountability or consequences. That’s a rational tradeoff.
And it would eliminate Swatting.
Why would making the act of “swatting” a felony alter any level of responsibility placed on law enforcement? I don’t see any reason the officer who shot the victim in this example shouldn’t be held responsible, while also holding the person who initiated the entire scenario also be held responsible.
In the case where the target of swatting isn’t harmed, the perp should still be liable for their actions. I imagine the jump to a felony would deter most casual criminals/keyboard warriors from attempting such from their parent’s basement. Not being a criminal, I can only guess.
Just when I was suspecting that half the comments on this post were left by people toiling away in Russian Internet troll factories, you came and left a comment that confirmed my suspicions, Pavel. Congratulations on your newfound success; it’s a role that suits you well.
At least here in NY, what the creep did should be good for at least Manslaughter 2, maaayybe, but unlikely, Manslaughter 1.
“Swatting needs to stop,”
SWATs ought to be eliminated altogether.
Why is military-style force regularly unleashed against civilians for matters as trivial and threatening as unpaid parking tickets?
I’d go even further by suggesting that the threshold for police to pull out their virility substitutes must be increased drastically, either by downright disarming them, and at least remove so-called “non-lethal” weapons such as frequently lethal Tasers.
I’m sure that this predominantly US audience will think I’m trolling…
You don’t live in the US but I don’t think you’re trolling.
I think you misunderstand. We have shootings EVERY DAY.
Lots of them, every day. Multi-person murders. Every day.
Police are on a front line on every single call.
There are more guns than people in this country. Owning them is trivial in most states. They cost less than mopeds, if you need a European correlation. In Texas they’re given away with new bank accounts. This is a crazy place, most keep their heads down and don’t think about it and try not to get shot meanwhile.
Civilians are in the middle of a serious problem in our society, and police are trying to deal with it but there are many, many challenges.
Police also have a strong bias towards self-preservation in this country, and some would say their policies are well beyond that.
There are no great solutions in the short or medium term.
“I’d go even further by suggesting that the threshold for police to pull out their virility substitutes must be increased drastically, either by downright disarming them, and at least remove so-called “non-lethal” weapons such as frequently lethal Tasers.”
Your suggestions have been digested over years and rejected on the merits.
Again, there is no easy solution. If there were, we are the laziest people on earth and we would have found it already.
-An American, patriot of sorts
I think you and I may agree on a lot–as an American, we share common interest. This is certainly a complex issue that needs to be addressed.
It is true that there are violent incidents involving firearms every day. I am having trouble corroborating that there are multi-victim murders each day–the FBI statistics talk about overall murder rates, but I cannot seem to find a way to deduce”multi-victim” homicides from their data. There are also gun violence databases, such as the gun violence archives, but they are largely based off “mass-shootings”–which must involve a
You and I would probably agree on many things; I am also an American, so we surely share a common interest.
I appreciate your explanation that this is a serious and complex issue that needs to be addressed. We could probably learn a lot talking through different alternative measures, such as why Tatütata’s response may have been rejected. However, I take serious issue with the way you talk about living here in this sentence, “This is a crazy place, most keep their heads down and don’t think about it and try not to get shot meanwhile.”
You are correct that there is a shooting incident each day. I cannot corroborate that there are multi-victim homicides each day, and I feel you should back that up if you can.*
However, these shootings are (largely) not random acts of violence in random places**. Think of how headlines are making money playing off this sense of fear–“There is one mass shooting for each day so far in 2017.” What does that mean to you when you read it? Do you read it and think “Could happen to anyone.. maybe ME when I go to work, or the supermarket…?”And the headline isn’t wrong! A mass shooting is defined as an incident with 4+ victims, and there were 345 last year (Gun Violence Archive).
How many of those were random? And even the ones with random victims–were they at the supermarket? Or were they in a night club in Gary, Indiana at 2AM? Or a fight between within a group of people with a history of violence?
There is so much nuance (as you mentioned),that you should really not make blanket statements about Americans living in a state of fear. By doing so, you are contributing to this fear, which only hinders our ability to come together and think rationally about a solution.
Few people I know ever experess this fear. The only exception I’ve experienced was when I attended a music festival shortly after the Vegas Shooting. This is not an every day occurrence–and even though some may have felt that way, 80K+ still showed up.
We Americans are not and should not be cowed by this violence, but it is an issue we must face, and face well. We should not devise solutions with fear in our hearts.
–An American, and a friend of yours.
*The data I look at comes from the FBI reports, which do not, to my knowledge, denote if victims of homicide are from a multi-victim incident. Most other data readily available is concerned with “mass shootings” of 4+ victims, which would not include homicides of 2+ victims.
**For instance, the US murder rate is expected to have dropped ~5.6% for 2017 (NPR by way of Brennan Center for Justice). But that is largely due to significant decreases in Detroit & Chicago (after a big spike, so it is not a long-term improvement). This is an illustration that general statements cannot tell the whole story, and that there is a concentration of violence in specific time and space (at any level.. certain sates, cities, neighborhoods, streets, buildings…).
The root cause of this tragic incident was the immature and reprehensible action of the person who placed the call to the police and reported a false hostage situation.
All the discussion about police training and action is totally irrelevant to this incident. Who in their right mind would take such action over a gaming loss and a $1.50? Who in their right mind to try to blame the responding officers for this tragic death?
Grow up and stop acting like a two year-old child.
Consistently left out of discussion are the two CoD gamers involved. First names of gamers appear to be Casey who initiated the SWATing and maybe paid for it and Shane who lives somewhere in the Finch neighborhood. Casey’s initiating the SWAT seems analogous to pointing a loaded gun (a SWAT unit) at Shane. Casey ‘employed’ (well maybe employed) Tyler to be his agent to activate and aim the loaded gun (SWAT) at Shane. Shane re-aimed the loaded gun (SWAT) “randomly” at a neighbor but invited/taunted Tyler/Casey to fire. When loaded gun aimed at someone goes off is technically homicide. But Casey enticed pulling the trigger with multiple ‘I-dare-you’s’ as if he were intent on the SWAT unit being activated to the address he gave. And because the gamers Shane and Casey and their history is unknown and so far unexaimed, there is no way to know if Casey has been involved in ‘murder for hire’ before or if Shane was not giving out a“random”address but actually the address of someone in the neighborhood against whom he had a grudge and whom he hoped would be at least frightened and maybe would be shot/killed. Or am I overthinking this?
You need to recall Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Hanlon’s razor doesn’t apply to bragging about the crime on social media however. That’s evidence of intent. It’s damning stuff.
I agree with Brian. Swatting needs to be a felony so that those who do this crap can expect jail time when caught…even if no one is hurt.
All swatting does is waste police resources, time, and it puts those (Both cop and civilian) at the location reported in danger.