May 24, 2018

Federal prosecutors have charged three men with carrying out a deadly hoax known as “swatting,” in which perpetrators call or message a target’s local 911 operators claiming a fake hostage situation or a bomb threat in progress at the target’s address — with the expectation that local police may respond to the scene with deadly force. While only one of the three men is accused of making the phony call to police that got an innocent man shot and killed, investigators say the other two men’s efforts to taunt and deceive one another ultimately helped point the gun.

Tyler “SWAuTistic” Barriss. Photo: AP

According to prosecutors, the tragic hoax started with a dispute over a match in the online game “Call of Duty.” The indictment says Shane M. Gaskill, a 19-year-old Wichita, Kansas resident, and Casey S. Viner, 18, had a falling out over a $1.50 game wager.

Viner allegedly wanted to get back at Gaskill, and so enlisted the help of another man — Tyler R. Barriss — a serial swatter known by the alias “SWAuTistic” who’d bragged of “swatting” hundreds of schools and dozens of private residences.

The federal indictment references transcripts of alleged online chats among the three men. In an exchange on Dec. 28, 2017, Gaskill taunts Barriss on Twitter after noticing that Barriss’s Twitter account (@swattingaccount) had suddenly started following him.

Viner and Barriss both allegedly say if Gaskill isn’t scared of getting swatted, he should give up his home address. But the address that Gaskill gave Viner to pass on to Barriss no longer belonged to him and was occupied by a new tenant.

Barriss allegedly then called the emergency 911 operators in Wichita and said he was at the address provided by Viner, that he’d just shot his father in the head, was holding his mom and sister at gunpoint, and was thinking about burning down the home with everyone inside.

Wichita police quickly responded to the fake hostage report and surrounded the address given by Gaskill. Seconds later, 28-year-old Andrew Finch exited his mom’s home and was killed by a single shot from a Wichita police officer. Finch, a father of two, had no party to the gamers’ dispute and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just minutes after the fatal shooting, Barriss — who is in Los Angeles  — is allegedly anxious to learn if his Kansas swat attempt was successful. Someone has just sent Barriss a screenshot of a conversation between Viner and Gaskill mentioning police at Gaskill’s home and someone getting killed. So Barriss allegedly then starts needling Gaskill via instant message:

Defendant BARRISS: Yo answer me this
Defendant BARRISS: Did police show up to your house yes or no
Defendant GASKILL: No dumb fuck
Defendant BARRISS: Lmao here’s how I know you’re lying

Prosecutors say Barriss then posted a screen shot showing the following conversation between Viner and Gaskill:

Defendant VINER: Oi
Defendant GASKILL: Hi
Defendant VINER: Did anyone show @ your house?
Defendant VINER: Be honest
Defendant GASKILL: Nope
Defendant GASKILL: The cops are at my house because someone ik just killed his dad

Barriss and Gaskill then allegedly continued their conversation:

Defendant GASKILL: They showed up to my old house retard
Defendant BARRISS: That was the call script
Defendant BARRISS: Lol
Defendant GASKILL: Your literally retarded
Defendant GASKILL: Ik dumb ass
Defendant BARRISS: So you just got caught in a lie
Defendant GASKILL: No I played along with you
Defendant GASKILL: They showed up to my old house that we own and rented out
Defendant GASKILL: We don’t live there anymore bahahaha
Defendant GASKILL: ik you just wasted your time and now your pissed
Defendant BARRISS: Not really
Defendant BARRISS: Once you said “killed his dad” I knew it worked lol
Defendant BARRISS: That was the call lol
Defendant GASKILL: Yes it did buy they never showed up to my house
Defendant GASKILL: You guys got trolled
Defendant GASKILL: Look up who live there we moved out almost a year ago
Defendant GASKILL: I give you props though you’re the 1% that can actually swat babahaha
Defendant BARRISS: Dude MY point is You gave an address that you dont live at but you were acting tough lol
Defendant BARRISS: So you’re a bitch

Later on the evening of Dec. 28, after news of the fatal swatting started blanketing the local television coverage in Kansas, Gaskill allegedly told Barriss to delete their previous messages. “Bape” in this conversation refers to a nickname allegedly used by Casey Viner:

Defendant GASKILL: Dm asap
Defendant GASKILL: Please it’s very fucking impi
Defendant GASKILL: Hello
Defendant BARRISS: ?
Defendant BARRISS: What you want
Defendant GASKILL: Dude
Defendant GASKILL: Me you and bape
Defendant GASKILL: Need to delete everything
Defendant GASKILL: This is a murder case now
Defendant GASKILL: Casey deleted everything
Defendant GASKILL: You need 2 as well
Defendant GASKILL: This isn’t a joke K troll anymore
Defendant GASKILL: If you don’t you’re literally retarded I’m trying to help you both out
Defendant GASKILL: They know it was swat call

The indictment also features chat records between Viner and others in which he admits to his role in the deadly swatting attack. In the follow chat excerpt, Viner was allegedly talking with someone identified only as “J.D.”

Defendant VINER: I literally said you’re gonna be swatted, and the guy who swatted him can easily say I convinced him or something when I said hey can you swat this guy and then gave him the address and he said yes and then said he’d do it for free because I said he doesn’t think anything will happen
Defendant VINER: How can I not worry when I googled what happens when you’re involved and it said a eu [sic] kid and a US person got 20 years in prison min
Defendant VINER: And he didn’t even give his address he gave a false address apparently
J.D.: You didn’t call the hoax in…
Defendant VINER: Does t [sic] even matter ?????? I was involved I asked him to do it in the first place
Defendant VINER: I gave him the address to do it, but then again so did the other guy he gave him the address to do it as well and said do it pull up etc

Barriss is charged with multiple counts of making false information and hoaxes; cyberstalking; threatening to kill another or damage property by fire; interstate threats, conspiracy; and wire fraud. Viner and Gaskill were both charged with wire fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. A copy of the indictment is available here.

The Associated Press reports that the most serious charge of making a hoax call carries a potential life sentence because it resulted in a death, and that some of the other charges carry sentences of up to 20 years.

The moment that police in Kansas fired a single shot that killed Andrew Finch.

As I told the AP, swatting has been a problem for years, but it seems to have intensified around the time that top online gamers started being able to make serious money playing games online and streaming those games live to thousands or even tens of thousands of paying subscribers. Indeed, Barriss himself had earned a reputation as someone who delighted in watching police kick in doors behind celebrity gamers who were live-streaming.

This case is not the first time federal prosecutors have charged multiple people in the same swatting attacks even if only one person was involved in actually making the phony hoax calls to police. In 2013, my home was the target of a swatting attack that thankfully ended without incident. The government ultimately charged four men — several of whom were minors at the time — with conducting that swat attack as well as many others they’d perpetrated against public figures and celebrities.

But despite spending considerable resources investigating those crimes, prosecutors were able to secure only light punishments for those involved in the swatting spree. One of those men, a serial swatter and cyberstalker named Mir Islam, was sentenced to to just one year in jail for his role in multiple swattings.  Another individual who was part of that group — Eric “Cosmo the God” Taylorgot three years of probation.

Something tells me Barriss, Gaskill and Viner aren’t going to be so lucky. Barriss has admitted his role in many swattings, and he admitted to his last, fatal swatting in an interview he gave to KrebsOnSecurity less than 24 hours after Andrew Finch’s murder — saying he was not the person who pulled the trigger.

79 thoughts on “3 Charged In Fatal Kansas ‘Swatting’ Attack

  1. JCitizen

    The Wichita police are not amused, and an officer said on a KSN news broadcast that he felt he had to shot the victim because he put his hands down and reached for his belt line.

    To think all of this is over a bet of pocket change. Very sad indeed, for the families of this poor man.

    They can throw the book at the defendants for all I care.

    1. RobL

      Agreed @JCitizen. Throw the book at them, then once they are out of jail, the victim’s relatives should all file wrongful death lawsuits so they stay bankrupt the rest of their lives.

      They need to be made an example to discourage these kiddies out there.

    2. Mike

      I would not care if the one who made the call got the death sentence. Reading those transcripts shows no conscience. I understand that people skip a beat while messaging, but his replies show that he read the information and didn’t care. The guy who gave the fake address maybe shouldn’t get a death sentence, but something severe. I guess one knotch down is life without parole. He should know that Swautistic is going to send out a swat, so he knowingly endangered any potential new tenants of his old house. Then, there’s his attempt to delete and cover it up. These seem like reasonable sentences. Thoughts?

    1. Craig

      The man who “won the prize” played no game. He walked out of his house without understanding what was happening and was shot by the police

    2. jjmel

      where’s the stupid prize for the only guy that killed someone for no good reason? did he even get fired for killing an innocent man? needs to be some consistency. somebody said to should not be a legitimate legal defense after killing someone. there needs to be police accountability.

      1. TCoop

        You might be an idiot. The police responded with the understanding that someone inside the house had already shot and killed his father, was holding his mother and sister hostage at gunpoint, and was potentially planning to burn the house to the ground. They did not respond with the convenience of retrospect, which you are blessed with from the safety of your computer chair. They responded to what they were told was a hostile situation. The man who presented himself had reached for his belt. Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The kids involved are the only ones to blame for this. You’re not entitled to say otherwise until you have experienced these types of situation first hand.

        1. SeymourB

          They’re not kids, they’re adults. Everyone involved in these extremely unfortunate events are adults and deserves to be treated as an adult.

          That being said, I feel more strongly about Viner and Barriss getting stronger sentences. Gaskill gave them the wrong address but what’s the alternative? Give these brainiacs his address? Even if he called in and admitted that he knew this was a hoax and reported the other two, the police are still going to show up. The moment Viner and Barriss conspired to swat Gaskill is the moment this entire sequence of events was put into motion.

          Whatever attempts Gaskill made to obstruct the investigation he needs to answer for. And I do wish he had given them an empty warehouse or business address instead of a residence he knew was occupied.

          1. Robert EV

            “Gaskill gave them the wrong address but what’s the alternative? Give these brainiacs his address?”

            No, the alternative is to not play the game at all. If you want to give them an address to string them along, give them a ridiculous one such as the address of the Governor’s mansion in Topeka.

            Gaskill willfully gave them an address in full knowledge that an unsuspecting person, who had likely never heard of swatting, would be swatted. If that’s not depraved indifference, then what is?

            Viner and Barriss at least thought (stupidly) that the person they were swatting would know that the swat was coming down, and would respond in a manner similar to Krebs which would defuse the situation.

            1. Larry

              Gaskill gave one person a valid address. That person was not even the one that did the swatting. He did not ask anyone to swat that address. He did not swat that address, he just gave the address. He had no idea if they actually swatted the address.

              He did try to cover his tracks but he should get probation, say for 3 years and a mark on his records.

              The other two need life sentences. Their intent was crystal clear.

        2. Dave Horsfall (who's not afraid to use his real name)

          Yep, that’s Amerika for you, where every idiot has the right to carry a gun; thank $DEITY that I live in Australia, where guns are really hard to get, and for some odd reason we don’t seem to have mass shootings. Funny, that… Headlines in Amerika: “Another mass school shooting” for example, because kids can’t run very fast (a reason used by one shooter).

            1. Anon

              You can’t even cross the street unless someone has painted lines on it in America. ‘God-given freedoms’ hahahhaa

  2. Jeff Neithercutt

    Hey Brian,
    While I appreciate the story and the personal impact it’s had on you, I would love it if you could zoom out to the ten thousand foot level in this subject and consider preaching about fixing the problems that even make this act possible. In the rush to push e911 systems into the cloud to save money, and into SIP systems to add on better location and service features, Law Enforcement failed to have trained Cyber Security Professionals do IV&V (independent verification and validation) that the systems they purchased were installed correctly, to do the right thing, and could do that thing right. Now we have an entire nation with cheap, cobbled together SIP 911 interchanges that any numbskull with a wardialer can use to confuse first responders into making critical mistakes. If federal, state, and/or local authorities hadn’t been so quick to save a dime on the newest, latest, and niftiest technology, that they didn’t understand and didn’t bother to verify was installed and working correctly, this wouldn’t even be possible. You can’t fix stupid. Prank 911 calls have happened since the invention of 911. But our 911 infrastructure personnel could go a long way toward fixing this problem if they were convinced they should. PS….swautistic is the quintessential oxygen thief for whom prisons were constructed. He can’t be fixed. But our “secure” first responder systems are getting dangeriusly more vulnerable with every budget cycle, and they can.

    1. MattyJ

      I’m not sure this incident had anything to do with that? He called into 911 remotely, from a different location. E911 couldn’t have been involved, he recited the address over the phone. I’m assuming he was ‘smart’ enough to not enable his location or E911 status.

      Even though this ended in tragedy, I wouldn’t advocate for a 911 system that makes first responders slower to respond. I don’t want a ‘cybersecurity expert’ scrutinizing my 911 call. If I’m having a heart attack I’d rather not get hassled on the phone because my E911 location isn’t coming through. I’ll voice my address and that should be enough.

      In this case it was a matter of someone taking advantage of a system that’s based on trust, and perhaps an overzealous police officer lacking training in this kind of situation. One shot from one officer when (presumably) many were present. My guess is that the officer wasn’t trained in deescalation methods, maybe wasn’t even SWAT, and grossly overreacted to a non-threat situation.

      1. RobL

        @MattyJ…with a heart attack, that should be no issue. Don’t think someone is going to knock down your door with a set of defibs in their hands.

    2. Dg99

      Totally agree. If 911 systems were setup properly they would not dispatch until they knew the calling number originated in the right location. The loss of life in this incident is on the 911 operation in whichita as well.

      1. Michael Murphy

        How do you define right location? Here’s why I have a problem with that thought. Right now my kids are staying with me in my apartment while their mother is out of town (across the country). I don’t have a phone in my apartment as I’m only here a couple weeks a month and have a cell phone, my kids don’t need cell phones, but the oldest has FB Messenger on his tablet. If something happened and they couldn’t reach me at work and they messaged their mother, I’d be pretty upset if emergency services delayed responding because the call came from the opposite coast.

    3. Mike

      That’s an interesting set of angles, Jeff & Matty. It would be more interesting to read that than seeing how far the article goes before BK makes it about himself because of his prior experience. Seriously, the firsthand experience isn’t necessary in an article that’s about someone else actually getting killed.

    4. Reader

      Read the report that Krebs wrote after the police officer murdered the man on his front porch. It indicated that the swatter called town hall and was transferred to the town’ police.

      911 wasn’t involved here.
      E911 wasn’t involved here.

      You do make some good points, however.

  3. sarah

    I wonder about the victim’s family…..

  4. Joe

    Social Media is such a double bladed sword. That is ultimately what got this guy killed. My heart goes out to the family of this victim and I agree with JCitizen, they need to throw the book at them to set an example.

  5. Nick

    The real shame here is that the trigger happy cop will get away scot free.

    1. Michael Schumann

      That’s a big part of the problem.

    2. fuckYOU

      You’re an idiot, the cop did nothing wrong.

      1. KYSCunt

        He murdered an innocent man you fucking mental midget.

      2. NoFuckYOU

        The authorities absolutely have culpability here. These 911 systems are way too easy to exploit, and SWAT officers clearly make almost no attempt to assess and deescalate these situations in an effective manner, and instead run in like hot shots, killing people. They absolutely should be held to account. That individual officer should at the very least be seriously reprimanded. The very least. And the 911 system that was exploited should also be party to the wrongful death lawsuit.

        It should not be so easy to turn local policy into a weapon of mass destruction by loser script kiddies. That is a systemic failure.

        1. Msean

          It would seem prudent for them to at least approach these situations with an attitude other than that the caller is a fine upstanding citizen and that everything they told the operator is the Gospel truth.

        2. Why the swearing and name calling

          Makes you two look like pre teens

      3. EataDick

        Someone should call a SWAT team on you in your own residence. Tool.

      4. cops to accept some blame

        The cop failed to use his brains….. the shoot first mentality. He is no longer in Iraq.

        But think about this… cops go to the wrong address all the time, because emergency callers get confused under stress. Beware.

      5. Anon404

        The cop did nothing wrong? If that was a hostage situation, that cop just killed a hostage that was sent to the door by the guy holding hostages.

      6. Peter

        So you are a team – not alone – of highly trained cops in full body armor hiding behind a car, and a person with no gear seems to be reaching down with a hand, and the first response is spray him with bullets?

        If that is indeed the intended trained response and official policy, he did nothing wrong, but something tells me that is not the case.

        At the minimum these cops need addition atraining, to teach them how to de-escalate better.

  6. The Sunshine State

    Great article , young kids getting caught over stupidity.

  7. Jeff B

    ‘Swatting’ –even when no physical harm is caused by it, should be made a Felony offense, immediately .
    This is not a joke, it is a criminal offense — and it should be treated as one by our laws.
    It threatens lives — every time it happens, period.
    Our Police Officers in particular –who already risk death every day on the job — deserve better than to suffer more of that risk because of a few thoughtless jackasses.
    Just plain common sense in my humble opinion.

    1. me

      I agree with Jeff B above. Even if nothing bad happens to the people at the swatted site, all that manpower has been pulled from others places, putting more people at risk.

  8. art


    1. John

      You are comparing a finger, which completely lacks higher-order thinking and independent problem solving capabilities, to a trained police officer with a deadly weapon.

      Without at all downplaying the seriousness of what the idiot kids did, the police officer who took the life of an innocent bystander based entirely on an anonymous phone call, is still largely responsible for his own actions.

  9. JimV

    Whatever prison time to which any of those 3 might be sentenced is both too little, and nowhere near the degree of obligationary compensation or substitution for the death of a completely innocent family man. I’m not at all sure there’s a reasonable way for all of them to provide any sort of restitution, either while they’re in prison or afterward, but that liability is something the court should explicitly require in the sentence.

  10. Bobby Jr

    The excuse is always the same: I’m not at fault because I’m not part of the swat team. This guy thinks he’s not responsible because he didn’t show up and pull the trigger. How he doesn’t understand that the cop who did show up and shoot wouldn’t have been there had he not made the phony call is … well, it’s irritating. What kind of piece of garbage do you have to be to not connect those dots (whether the connection is missed purposefully or not)?

    1. heh

      Yeah, we should also charge the mothers of murderers because if they hadn’t given birth no murder would have happened!

      1. Bobby Jr

        Umm … are you seriously incapable of understanding this situation? Are you seriously suggesting that this cop would have shown up at this guy’s house and shot him even though the SWAT call never took place? Cuz that’s what you’re saying. And saying that? It’s not a good look … cuz it’s pretty dumb.

        OR … maybe you’re assuming that I don’t think the cop has any responsibility. And that’s, well, also dumb since I never addressed the cop in my original statement. To address this specific dumb I’ll clarify: the cop absolutely has responsibility for his actions during the call and should absolutely face consequences for them. That does not, however, excuse the SWATters from their responsibility because, again, the cop would never have been in the position to make this specific mistake had they not played their little game.

  11. Simba

    Yeah okay, but nobody cares. Ask the FBI why they’ve allowed, a website which exists for the sole purpose of felonious cyber-bullying, to continue operating unhindered for years? That is the kind of place where people will coordinate these kinds of terrorist actions, and yet the FBI does nothing.

    The police should be held accountable, both for their failure in the line of duty and their refusal to take action against these people when they are alerted to their behaviors.

  12. Simple Solution

    Why is this a question?
    Grant them a fair trial and if guilty, hang them and move on.

  13. Too-old-to-play

    The actions that most likely led to this murder was the failure of the justice system to take previous acts of this type seriously and dish out serious penalties; the result was foreseeable by anyone with reasonable intelligence.

    The police, federal authorities and prosecutors are far from perfect, but if they do find someone, arrest and charge them, and get a guilty verdict and the perpetrators get only a relative slap on the wrist the system is not going to waste its limited resources the next time.

    Then, once the deterrent is all gone, the vandals run wild – until the inevitable end.

  14. Heretofore

    The guys who called this in are clearly responsible — but so are the police. He had to kill the man who came to the door because his hands weren’t up over his head? This is madness. They know that swatting exists, but they just go ahead and kill the poor guy, who had no idea what was going on, without first verifying that what the caller said was true. This is not the only time this has happened. We are all at risk here because of an incompetent, reckless policy that, apparently, is still in place all across the USA.

    1. Reader

      I heartily agree with every word you wrote.

      I would add that this series of unfortunate events was entirely preventable. The cops shouldn’t have been there. The swatter call should never have been transferred to police dispatch from town hall. The gamers and the swatter shouldn’t have exploited a vulnerability in emergency operations. And, most importantly, that vulnerability should not exist.

      The blame for the fatality should rest squarely on the unnamed and unindicted police officer who fired the bullet, murdering a man on his front porch, for absolutely no legitimate reason. That officer should be fired and put in jail. But his supervisor and training officers deserve shame, too.

      One of the top rules of firearm safety is to never point a firearm at anyone you don’t intend to kill. Who routinely violates this rule? AMERICAN POLICE. It’s a fundamental failure in their training, based on fear and outdated safety statistics.

      Police are responsible for one third of all American firearm deaths. Once our protectors, they have become instruments of death, set loose by an oppressive government and unhinged swatters.

      It shouldn’t be so easy to cause mayhem by calling police. Something needs to change.

      1. Bobby Jr

        Umm … when a police officer points his weapon at you he is most certainly indicating he is willing to destroy you. They aren’t violating any rules of firearm safety. He isn’t doing it to scare or threaten you (brandishing/menacing), he’s doing it because he is 100% willing to pull the trigger.

        That said, we can talk about better training and overly aggressive responses – those are real things. But the idea that cops violate the second basic rule of firearm safety is simply incorrect.

        1. JasonR

          @Bobby Jr – You miss the point. You don’t raise a gun at someone to get them to follow your directions. You raise a gun to pull the trigger.

          However, the officer may have in fact had his gun pointed down originally, but only raised it and pulled the trigger as the man disobeyed his commands to put his hands up.

          As a civilian who has only ever once pointed a firearm at another human being, I was fully intent on pulling the trigger in the next half-second as my attacker was rushing me after running down the block flailing his arms shooting he was going to kill me. The only reason I did not shoot was that as soon as my firearm was pointed, he stopped charging at me and backed away, at which point I began to lower my firearm once there was enough distance. Again, another step, another half-second, and he’d have been shot twice and probably dead.

          Folks just need to realize, when a police officer is giving you commands, not following those commands can end in death if it looks like your hands are going for a weapon. Keep your hands where they are visible and move slowly.

          1. Reader

            Failure to obey lawful commands should result in a warning or arrest, not death.

            I appreciate your views and recognition about the importance of gun safety, i.e. not pointing a gun unless you want to kill. However, I disagree with the implication that free people should obey police under threat of being killed.

            They should be trained better and we should demand better.

      2. Reader

        A sentence above should have read as follows.

        “Police are responsible for one third of all Americans killed by strangers using firearms.”

  15. throw away the key on the guy

    barris really does look like a punk arse kid

  16. Charles

    Put them all in solitary and make them play FoldIt for the rest of their lives.

  17. Bill

    All cell phone companies are selling our precise real-time physical location to anyone who will pay for it, and there’s no way for anyone to opt out except to abandon phones… and yet 911 operators can’t figure out where anybody is unless they are told? What kind of stupid upside-down world is this?

  18. Sheilagh Wong

    If the police were competent and professional, instead of the trigger happy, self-important thugs they are, no one would have gotten hurt.

    1. Bobby Jr

      And if nobody sent them to that location then that man would still be alive today.

      1. arouk

        They are a professional law enforcement agency. They should have checks in place to make sure some faggot swatter isn’t giving them kill orders. There is absolutely no way to excuse that this is possible.

        I don’t care how authentic a 911 call sounds. Nobody knows a damn thing from a phone call.

  19. AL

    The justice department needs to make examples of people like this. They robbed a man of his right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How much more fundamental does crime get??

  20. Matthew

    If they get sent to prison, the other inmates will make their lives a living Hell. If those kids are lucky, they’ll only be forced to become the “girlfriends” of the other inmates. If they’re not lucky, they’ll probably be killed by the other inmates.

    1. Reader

      Did your parents teach you to wish rape or murder on others?

      Such pride they must have now.

      1. Mahhn

        Matthew wasn’t saying HE would do that, he made a factual statement of what WILL happen. I hope the murderers live long enough to suffer. You tell me how you would feel if they murdered your father – and only as a joke to each other.

        1. Reader

          Retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence, and public safety are reasonable considerations in sentencing within our justice system. Revenge is not.

          You’d be served well to learn the difference.

  21. Richard

    I always find it hard to understand how this happens. In the UK if you phone the Police they can tell what phone you are calling in from, which then allows them to know your location. As has been mentioned – surely in the US this is more than possible.

    Also, if you can’t verify the above, then surely you attend the scene a little more relaxed? If someone murders their father and holds their mother hostage – has there been reports from neighbours of shots fired? Any reports of a disturbance at all?

    The Police in the US need to start doing more training on threat assessment and de-escalation rather than what seems like training their officers by playing Call of Duty, if you are trained in firearm use, have a gun drawn and aimed on your target then surely you can give yourself a split second to decide if someone is pulling their trousers up or pulling a gun out, I’m sure not every potential criminal is a quick draw expert to enable them to draw and accurately fire so quick that it requires officers to shoot as soon as they move!

    1. Reader

      You’re correct. But the problem is so much worse than you may know.

      US police are paid to follow training, not think or assess threats. In fact, they can be rejected for having too much intelligence.

      Despite their job being relatively safe (and getting safer every year), US police treat every encounter with the public as a deadly force situation.

      The biggest danger cops face? Themselves. They’re three times more likely to kill themselves than be shot dead by a criminal.

      Americans killed by use of firearms usually know the perpetrator. But when it’s homicide by a stranger, one third are killed by police using their firearms.

      Clearly, it’s time for the majority of police in the US to be disarmed or be retrained in the way you’ve mentioned.

      1. Reader

        A sentence above omitted the word “potential.”

        Despite their job being relatively safe (and getting safer every year), US police treat every encounter with the public as a potential deadly force situation.

    2. timeless

      SWATting as was done in this case involves not dialing 911 directly.

      Dialing it directly (or 112 or 999 or whatever your local emergency number is) results in the emergency operator getting access to useful location information (from the phone, or from the cellular network).

      But, in this case, the caller called the town hall or something and that call was transferred to the police. Not 911, and if it was transferred to 911, it’d probably have the town hall’s caller information, and it certainly wouldn’t have triggered the 911-location services from the phone or cellular network because the call wasn’t initiated by the phone as a 911 call.

      The same social engineering attack can be attempted outside the USA. I’m not sure how effective it would be elsewhere. My guess is that it would reach an emergency services agent, who would probably misclassify it — as was done here. Most likely the reason the outcome would likely be different is police training and a tendency not to shoot first in other countries*.

      * I wouldn’t bet on Canada being better than the US, there have been a number of police shootings of civilians resulting in death in Canada too.

  22. Mahhn

    The perps should absolutely do long jail time (since death by fire is illegal), and have at least half of their entire life earning go to the wife and children of the man they had murdered.
    The Trainers of the officer should be fired and replaced, as well as the officer.
    I would give free pass to anyone who committed any crime against those 3 pukes. I hope they suffer at least half as much has the wife and children of the deceased – but they never will.

  23. Confused

    Gun happy police kill plenty of people who don’t deserve to be killed. Here’s just another case.
    The concept of suicide by cop says it all.
    What a weak system it must be, for kids to be able to exploit it in this way.
    The American form of hatred is the worst in the world. Kids grow up learning it. Adults live by it.
    The government run the country with it.

  24. JohnnyS

    There’s a really scary comparison between Canadaa and the USA here.

    Some people think that there’s “no” guns in Canada, but the percentage of households which own guns in Canada is about 22%, which is similar to the USA. Canada does have fewer guns per capita, but only by a factor of about 3. There’s about 1 gun per person in the USA and about 1 gun for every 3 persons in Canada.

    In this case described in this article, in the USA we have a SWAT team attending a house where a man comes out with no aggressive moves and is immediately shot.

    In Canada, we recently had a very violent mass attack (some people are calling it terrorism) on Yonge St. in Toronto, where a suspect drove a van down the sidewalk to kill people. When the van stopped, the suspect attempted to get the cop to shoot him for “suicide by cop”, but the cop managed to avoid shooting him and successfully arrested him. The cop had a gun but chose not to use it, even after the suspect screamed at the cop that he had a gun and was going to shoot the cop.

    I have to wonder: A cop in Canada is somewhat less likely to face a firearm, but there’s still a good chance they will face a firearm: Cops HAVE died in firearm attacks in Canadas in the past. So how is it that there is such a HUGE difference in the response between the Canadian cop and the USA cop? Is it training, wages, culture, or what?


    1. Reader

      Training and culture.

      At first, there were no police in the US or UK. Really. The UK’s wealthy protected themselves with private armies, while early Americans elected Sheriffs and armed themselves.

      With urbanization arising from the Industrial Age in the 1800s, the wealthy grew concerned about property crimes and morality crimes in cities. In the UK and US, the wealthy addressed these concerns by directing cities to hire police.

      The UK police quickly met resistance in the early 1800s. To placate the masses, UK police adopted a model called “policing by consent” or Peelian Principles. This spread to other UK subsidiaries, such as Canada and Australia. It’s why their police aren’t routinely armed or seen beating innocent people. (Link below).

      US police did not meet resistance when they first were hired in the late 1800s. Most cities were then made up of people who had more pressing concerns: immigrants, the working poor, and colored folks. For this reason, US police quickly spun into a symbol of corruption.

      During Prohibition and the Great Depression, organized crime syndicates took control of big US cities. The wealthy and powerful fought back with more police hiring, arming them with firearms and authorization to use force indiscriminately.

      Rinse, repeat. The drug war. The terror war. More force, more fines, more laws.

      This probably won’t end well.

      So, when you ask if it’s culture or training, it’s both.

      1. JohnnyS

        @Reader, thanks for your thoughtful and interesting reply.

        I’d like to make one correction: Police in Canada ARE routinely armed and have been for many years: Normally a police officer has a sidearm (typically Glock or S&W), and if they are in a car they usually have access to a shotgun. Also, they will carry a baton and/or pepper spray.

        In some areas, Canadian police may have access to weapons like the C8 carbine, the H&K MP5, Tasers, tear gas, and other equipment.


        1. Reader


          I read with interest your response and link. I’m hesitant to draw a generalization on all Canadian police forces from an article on Toronto police. However, I defer to your local knowledge.

          I see that Wikipedia article specifies an 1863 incident in which armed Toronto police were dispatched. My presumption from that is they were ordinarily unarmed during that era.

          Finally, it’s amusing to read that Toronto police were thought in 1837 to be corrupt and “uniformly slovenly.” Apparently, they had to be reformed in 1859.

          Perhaps the rest of Canadian police history is more colorful than I believed.

  25. Andy

    I feel extremely sorry for the relatives of the victim but I also feel sorry for the police officer who shot the man.
    It’s so easy to criticize the police when you’re sitting in a comfortable room and viewing the thing with hindsight. It was not the fact that the victim never raised his hands above his head but that he then apparently lowered them. It was dark and the adrenaline would have been flowing.
    In a split second the officer had to make a decision as to whether the man was going for a gun. If he had, and had then opened fire several police might have been injured or killed.
    There were other armed officers there but each one has to make his own decision.
    In the event he made the wrong call. Not knowing the officer I’d give him the benefit of thinking that he is not a trigger happy officer but an ordinary person who now has to live with this death.
    It is not unknown for people to try to get themselves killed by the police, suicide by cop I believe it is called. In such cases the police are often pressed so hard by the victim that they do eventually shoot. However we do not know how often police manage to save the victim from himself. I have seen a video of a police sniper managing to shoot a gun out of a mans had rather than kill him, and that after a 20 minute stand off.
    Given that the police thought that a man had shot his father at the address then they may well have been expecting some suicidal behavior.
    Just for your information I believe the whole incident took about ten seconds. So much easier to judge when you have time to make the decision.

    1. Peter

      “If he had, and had then opened fire several police might have been injured or killed.”

      Cops (plural, he was not alone) have body armor and they were all hiding behind cars. Chances of them getting harmed by such a lone man, even if he had a gun, are virtually zero.

      They should have waited to see if he actually drew, and only then returned fire considering there was close to no risk to the cops.

      Cops should not respond in such a black and white manner.

  26. BG

    The tragedy of this case is the death. The proximate cause of the death is the shot fired by a cop.

    EVEN IF this was a real call so that the man at the house actually had killed someone and was likely armed, the shooting is STILL not justified unless the cop feared for his life (a terrible standard, but that’s what it is in most states) . If a person bursts out of the murder-call house, it is not correct to shoot at them. For anyone not wearing blue, it’s just plain murder to shoot someone who is not in fact threatening you.

    It reeks of bootlicking to vilify the schmucks who started the chain of events while of blithely ignoring the immediate, obvious, actual and proximate cause of the tragic death.

  27. duck life

    At first, there were no police in the US or UK. Really. The UK’s wealthy protected themselves with private armies, while early Americans elected Sheriffs and armed themselves.

  28. rondity

    no one should just die like this,one can only be shot only and only if he poses a danger to the officers

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