California ‘swatting’ suspect charged with manslaughter
The California man believed to be behind a deadly “swatting” prank has been charged with manslaughter for placing the phony phone call that culminated in a police officer shooting an unarmed man outside his Kansas home.
Tyler Barriss is also facing charges including interference with law enforcement and reporting a false alarm, which is a felony.
The 25-year-old suspect on Friday made his first court appearance from jail via video after being extradited from California earlier in the week.
He was arrested in Los Angeles on Dec. 29, less than a day after authorities received a call detailing an alleged hostage situation at a home in Wichita. The caller claimed to have killed his father and that he was holding his mother and sister at gunpoint.
He added that he poured gasoline all over the house and “might just set it on fire,” according to the 911 recording.
Authorities now believe they fell victim to “swatting,” a prank notorious in the gaming community which involves phoning in a false tip with goal of triggering a large law enforcement presence at a particular address.
Andrew Finch of Wichita, Kan., was shot to death by police when Tyler Raj Barriss allegedly pranked him with a “swatting” phone call.
The hoax call was reportedly the result of a feud over a small bet in a “Call of Duty” online video game tournament.
Sedgewick County District Attorney Marc Bennett told reporters he’s still reviewing whether to file charges against the officer who fatally shot 28-year-old Andy Finch when he opened his front door to a horde of police officers and armored vehicles.
Identified as only a seven-year veteran of the force, the officer was immediately placed on administrative leave after the shooting.
Bennett also noted that other “potential suspects” have been identified in the case.
“There is no other situation quite like this to reference,” Bennett said. “I am not going to stand right here and say I am not considering anything else. That would be untrue.
Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter, interference with law enforcement and reporting a false alarm.
“The law is catching up with technology.”
Swatting has long posed a problem for authorities — the FBI estimates roughly 400 cases occur annually — though Finch’s death appears to be the first to result from the dangerous prank.
Barriss, if convicted on the manslaughter charge, could face up to 11 years behind bars depending on his criminal history.
He’s also been linked to previous swatting incidents in Illinois and New Hampshire, according to court records.
And earlier this week, Canadian officers issued an arrest warrant for Barriss, claiming he placed a similar hoax call just six days before the fatal shooting on Dec. 28, the Los Angeles Times reported. Police suspect he was targeting the home of a woman he met online.
With News Wire Services