March 29, 2019

Tyler Barriss, a 26-year-old California man who admitted making a phony emergency call to police in late 2017 that led to the shooting death of an innocent Kansas resident, has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Tyler Barriss, in an undated selfie.

Barriss has admitted to his role in the Kansas man’s death, as well as to dozens of other non-fatal “swatting” attacks. These dangerous hoaxes involve making false claims to emergency responders about phony hostage situations or bomb threats, with the intention of prompting a heavily-armed police response to the location of the claimed incident.

On Dec. 28, 2017, Barriss placed a call from California to police in Wichita, Kan., claiming that he was a local resident who’d just shot his father and was holding other family members hostage.

When Wichita officers responded to the address given by the caller — 1033 W. McCormick — they shot and killed 28-year-old Andrew Finch, a father of two who had done nothing wrong.

Barriss admitted setting that fatal swatting in motion after getting in the middle of a dispute between two Call of Duty online gamers, 18-year-old Casey Viner from Ohio and Shane Gaskill, 20, from Wichita. Viner and Gaskill are awaiting their own trials in connection with Finch’s death.

Barriss pleaded guilty to making hoax bomb threats in phone calls to the headquarters of the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. He also made bomb threat and swatting calls from Los Angeles to emergency numbers in Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Massachusetts, Illinois, Utah, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Michigan, Florida and Canada.

“I hope that this prosecution and lengthy sentence sends a strong message that will put an end to the juvenile and reckless practice of ‘swatting’ within the gaming community, as well as in any other context,” said Kansas U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a written statement. “Swatting is just a terrible idea. I also hope that today’s result helps bring some peace to the Finch family and some closure to the Wichita community.”

Many readers have commented here that the officer who fired the shot which killed Andrew Finch should also face prosecution. However, the district attorney for the county that encompasses Wichita decided in April 2018 that the officer will not face charges, and will not be named because he isn’t being charged with a crime.

As the victim of a swatting attack in 2013 and two other attempted swattings, I’m glad to finally see a swatting prosecution that may actually serve as a deterrent to this idiotic and extremely dangerous crime going forward.

But as I’ve observed in previous stories about swatting attacks, it would also be nice if more police forces around the country received additional training on exercising restraint in the use of deadly force, particularly in responding to hostage or bomb threat scenarios that have hallmarks of a swatting hoax.

For example, perpetrators of swatting often call non-emergency numbers at state and local police departments to carry out their crimes precisely because they are not local to the region and cannot reach the target’s police department by calling 911. This is exactly what Tyler Barriss did in the Wichita case and others. Swatters also often use text-to-speech (TTY) services for the hearing impaired to relay hoax swat calls, as was the case with my 2013 swatting.

46 thoughts on “Man Behind Fatal ‘Swatting’ Gets 20 Years

  1. The Sunshine State

    Thanks for posting this article :–)

  2. Good!

    Completely earned every year of his sentence and more. Sociopath.

  3. Edward

    20 yr sentence is not long enough for what amounts to a 1st degree murder (albeit of a different victim).

    He should be sentenced to life without parole. This was not the first time he attempted murder by this means.

    And he trashed two families — that of the victim and that of the law enforcement officer who fired the shot.

    1. Rube Goldberg's Razor

      The dead man’s niece shot herself to death a year later, then her boyfriend did the same after finding her dead:
      And, yes, that cop obviously enjoyed his opportunity. Of course there are good cops, but the profession is seventh on the list of the top ten that attracts psychopaths. He didn’t need more training, he needed a heart. I’ve personally thanked police for de-escalating situations, and have seen some who just need to be shot themselves.

    2. Kirk

      I agree with you Edward, and I think there are not many people being vocal enough about the reality of the situation. No matter what rationalization each of us choose, there are several families severely impacted by this, an event that really would have never happened had this you g person not become obsessed with escalating and increasingly bolder swats.

  4. Clairvaux

    This is certainly justified. The policemen should have been prosecuted, too. That’s trigger-happiness at its worst.

    1. Anon404

      I agree. If that was a real hostage situation, the cop shot a hostage without knowing who it was.

  5. Phil

    I love you armchair quarterbacks talking about the police. You internet badasses would’ve pissed your pants and called for your mommies to bring you your tendies. Respect your police, respect the rule of law, or this society is doomed. Goddamn keyboard warriors.

    1. Christian

      Absolutely right my man. If a cop fatally shoots someone in your family, you had better give them your respect. I mean, even if they didn’t violate any laws, who cares? It’s the men in blue!

      It’s not like innocent people being shot by those who protect has any implications of where society is heading…

    2. Anon404

      Dude, the cop shot a hostage. Let that sink in. If this was a real hostage situation, the police would not have known that the shooter didnt send a hostage to the door. That trigger happy cop would have shot an innocent person, hoax or not.

  6. Nobby Nobbs

    Tragic all ’round, but I’m glad he will at least be off the phone networks for a decade or so. I really don’t see why this was ever a thing; the police response should be more deliberate. Good on you and all who work to make it obvious how foolish this is. I should hope gamers will censure those who espouse such actions.

  7. Dennis

    Im still waiting for that idiotic commenter to say that “we shouldn’t be putting people in prison.”

    Until then, I’m gonna say, AMEN! That human waste deserved every single second of it. Now hang on buddy and don’t drop the soap! PS. With a crime like his he’d be a good gf.

  8. Barry Ocasio Cortez

    We shouldn’t be putting this person in prison. He is a victim of racist, capitalist, patriarchal hegemony and should get lots of hugs and free stuff.

  9. Ron G

    The only thing wrong with this 20 year sentence is that the schmuck will probably only actually do 8 of that.

    1. BrianKrebs Post author

      Unless I’m mistaken, he will serve all 20 years. There is no parole in the U.S. federal prison system. They can earn time for good behavior but this guy has shown zero remorse and the last time he was incarcerated he reportedly tried to swat someone from jail, so that seems unlikely.

      1. Whoopie

        Correct, under the federal system you’d only earn a few weeks per year. If he really, really behaved, he’d still end up serving 17 or 18 years.

      2. Clairvaux

        “This guy has shown zero remorse and the last time he was incarcerated he reportedly tried to swat someone from jail.”

        Whaaat ? Some people are really insane…

  10. Mike

    20 isn’t enough.

    Worse, the COP SHOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGED. Did you see the bodycam video? The resident came out of his house, raised his hands, and then got shot. His head popped. The cop shot him FROM ACROSS THE STREET WHILE THE VICTIM HAD HIS EMPTY HANDS UP. Then the cops claimed that they “felt” threatened. Bull$#!+. That cop should share a cell with the swatter.

  11. Paul

    The trigger happy policeman should have been charged with murder.

    1. Readership1

      I agree. The DA was wrong to hide the cop’s name and decline prosecution. It should have gone to a grand jury to decide, at the least.

      BK addressed this in his article.

  12. NaN

    For what it’s worth, if organized crime (or even local gangs) realized how easy it is to swat someone and used it as a distraction while carrying out more serious crimes it would be even worse. At least it’s still 20 somethings and young adults upset over gaming instead of … (use your imagination crimes swat would normally get called for).

  13. Wayne

    Brian, was this just for the charges for this one incident? I’m guessing that the charges for all of the other bomb threats and SWATtings are still pending and he could be seeing a lot more trials and prison time?

    As I recall, Canada is also interested in him.

  14. JCitizen

    I should have realized this earlier, but how is it they called such a thing in for someone that had nothing to do with the game or the individual who called it in? Am I missing something here? Do these “swatters” just call these in to random people? I don’t get it!

    1. timeless

      The intended victim gave out an old address and the swatter used it.

      — This was in some of the older reporting.

      1. JCitizen

        Ach! Thank you timeless I had completely forgot that! What can I say, I’ve got “old timer’s disease”! 🙁

  15. JCitizen

    Perhaps there was an address change that this criminal was not aware of?

  16. Kirk

    My bet is that Tyler is such a weasel that he’ll figure out prison life pretty quickly… But man, that baller grin, that i-know-wussup wannabe smurk and that fair-skinned face are going to look a lot different when he makes parole.

  17. Ned2

    I’ve always thought the best deterrent would be for the perpetrator to be subjected to the same punishment as that he wrought on his victims.
    Execute murderers.
    Put rapists in a cell with Bubba.
    Take a thiefs every possession.
    And so on.

    This scumbag was an accessory to murder and deserves nothing less than the death penalty.

  18. Matt

    The video of the police officers shooting this guy is disgusting. No weapon, no “hostages” in danger. Multiple officers all with weapons trained on the guy. Multiple officers shouting instructions. One shoots him with a rifle from across the street. Absolutely not justified. I hope the civil case results in this officer losing everything. It should not be this easy to “trick” the police into killing another human being.

    1. Anon404

      Agree. You have to also consider that if this was a real hostage situation, the shooter may have sent a hostage to the door. The cop essentially shot the hostage.

  19. Theo

    Such a positive way to protest! I wish more protesters would raise $ for a good cause. 🙂

  20. Kent Brockman

    “I hope that this prosecution and lengthy sentence sends a strong message that will put an end to the juvenile and reckless practice of ‘swatting’ within the gaming community, as well as in any other context,” said Kansas U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a written statement. “Swatting is just a terrible idea. I also hope that today’s result helps bring some peace to the Finch family and some closure to the Wichita community.”

    And how about the message repeatedly sent that the ‘boys in blue’ are little more than paid executioners. Not even a slap on the wrist for the cretin behind the badge who snuffed out an innocent life. And people wonder why cops in general are so hated by so many. It’s not just the bad cops, it’s their enablers like the county DA in this case, that are beneath contempt.

  21. Gal Anonim

    message to citizens, WE THE COPS can kill you whenever we want, and we will not be charged. Don’t like it, though luck, obey the system!

  22. Punitha Manavalan

    Brian, an imaginative flurry at my end – of internet network complications, interference, chaos and confusions that will always perhaps implicate an innocent.

    🙂 Most of the time personally I like to error on the side of.. simply giving everyone involved a nice vacation. :_

  23. angela

    the cop didnt get charged?
    how typical

    so if a cop made anonymous “swat” calls at a target address, they would be justified to shoot people freely once sent out to the location?

    sounds like a pretty serious flaw

  24. BeenSwattedByBarris

    So, this guy is confirmed to be the one who called in the bomb threat to the school I’m employed at. He did it on behalf of a middle schooler, who bragged about it on social media to classmates, who in turn clued in the school administration and eventually the Sheriff. It seems the FBI was waiting on enough evidence to jump because Barris was apprehended not long after.

    I was a little surprised a notorious swatter halfway across the country only got caught because a student saw something and said something to their principal in a tiny Midwest town. At least that’s what I think happened.

    I’m interested in the court case details, because this would make a great story for the local paper.

  25. John

    How did he find the identity of the man he called in the SWATing hoax on? Did he know his name or did he use another way to find out the real identity of the online gamer?

  26. NewsJunkieEd

    So posting under a false name probably takes some of the foundation out from under my argument, but an awful lot of online crime and bad behavior would be avoided if we each were required to use our real identity vs. anonymity.

    People being held accountable for what they do would certainly be a deterrent.

    Perhaps a token tied to our real ID which connection could be made only at the LE level? You could have multiple online personas (tokens) but all link back to the one real ID. If we can link one Social Security Number to one individual we should be able to do this. You wouldn’t know who the token holder (e.g. NewsJunkieEd) is but if I were committing crimes online police could discover who I am with certainty and a quickness.

    Why not?

Comments are closed.