Tyler Barriss, known for being the infamous “swatter” whose actions led to the death of an innocent man named Andrew Finch in December 2017, has pleaded guilty to a total of 51 charges and will serve 20 to 25 years in prison, as the BBC reports.
On Dec. 28, 2017, 25-year-old Tyler Barriss engaged in a dispute with two other gamers, Casey Viner, 18, and Shane Gaskill, 20, while playing Call of Duty: World War II. Viner and Gaskill had exchanged friendly fire in the game, which led to them losing a match and a bet of $1.50. Viner and Gaskill’s argument reached the point where Viner threatened Gaskill with “swatting,” a prominent and dangerous harassment tactic often used by gamers to send police to the residence of a person who has angered them. Gaskill challenged Viner to swat him, giving him the address of a house his family was evicted from in 2016. Viner then asked Barriss to make the call for him.
Barriss, calling from Los Angeles, contacted police in Wichita, Kan., falsely claiming he had murdered his father, was holding family members hostage in his house at gunpoint and had poured gasoline all over the home with the plan of setting the house on fire. He had disguised his phone number to make it appear to the Wichita Police Department that he lived in the area. He believed the address he had gotten from Viner belonged to Gaskill.
It actually belonged to Andrew Finch, an innocent man and father of two who had nothing to do with the game and wasn’t even someone who played videogames. He was not the intended target, of course, because he had nothing to do with the bet. The 28-year-old had been at home with his mother, and upon hearing law enforcement outside of his home, he opened the door and was tragically shot dead by police. Officer Justin Rapp, believing Finch to be armed, opened fire when Finch lowered his hands to his waistband, per ESPN.
Barriss was then arrested in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, 2017. On Jan. 12, he was extradited to Kansas on charges of raising a false alarm, involuntary manslaughter and interference with a law enforcement officer. He later faced 46 new charges brought by federal prosecutors over other swatting incidents, credit card frauds and fake bomb threats he had made in the past to shopping malls, schools, TV stations and even the offices of the FBI. He had previously maintained he was innocent, but has now pleaded guilty and faces a sentence of up to 25 years in jail.
There have been many high-profile incidents of swatting in the last few years, including various streamers being swatted while live-streaming. Even in the best of cases, swatting has always been extremely dangerous and frightening for the people who have had the SWAT team show up at their door.
Viner and Gaskill have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and are currently awaiting their trial, which is planned to occur on Jan. 8, 2019, in Wichita. Barriss is set to be sentenced on Jan. 30, 2019.