Swatting is a terrifying thing. Someone calls the police and says there’s an incident at your home, that it’s bad and it has to be dealt with right now. The police roll out, tensely wondering if this will be the day they kill someone in the line of duty. They pull up to your house and bust in the door, ready to shoot a bad person and end a dangerous situation, only to find out that the dangerous situation was their arrival.
Most of the time, the police respond and figure out that nothing was going on before anyone gets hurt, but it doesn’t always happen that way.
Now, a man responsible for a fatal swatting call has pled guilty to 51 charges stemming from his actions.
Tyler Barriss, 26, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making a false report resulting in a death, after he placed a hoax call late last year that resulted in police fatally shooting an unarmed man in Wichita, Kan.
Barriss pleaded guilty to a total of 51 charges as part of a plea deal. He will be sentenced in January, The Associated Press reports.
Prosecuting U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister told The Wichita Eagle he will recommend that Barriss be sentenced to 20 years in prison, providing he writes apology letters to police, dispatchers and the family of Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old father of two who was shot by police who responded to the hoax call in December.
The call that led to Finch’s death was an instance known as “swatting” — making a false report of an ongoing crime so serious that a SWAT team or large group of officers shows up.
Barriss was charged with the federal crime of making hoax bomb threats in phone calls to the headquarters of the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission. He falsely reported bombs at dozens of high schools, universities, shopping malls and television stations.
In the case of Finch, Barriss placed a call claiming that he had shot his father and was holding other relatives hostage in a home in Wichita. In reality, Barriss placed the call from California.
As NPR has reported, “Finch appeared at the door to the house and, following verbal commands from the officers, stepped forward with his hands up. At numerous points, however, he reached for his waistband. Fearful that Finch was going for a firearm, an officer discharged one round,” killing him.
As to why Barriss made the call, the APreports that it stemmed from an argument with Shane Gaskill, 20, of Wichita and Casey Viner, 18, of North College Hill, Ohio, while playing Call of Duty, an online multiplayer video game.
Let’s be clear here, swatting isn’t a game. It’s not a prank, and it’s not a punishment. It’s attempted murder by proxy.
For gun owners, it puts us in an odd situation. If the police think they’re coming in to deal with a killer, I doubt they’re going to want to chat first. If they come in with guns blazing and perhaps don’t identify themselves, or don’t in the confusion of the moment, how many of us would think “home invasion” instead and draw our weapons?
At that moment, what do you think will happen? We die.
People who use the police to try and punish others like this deserve far more than prison time if you ask me. It puts officers’ lives at risk as well as citizens’. It was only a matter of time before someone died due to swatting.
And this was over an argument on a video game.
Swatting is also a favorite tactic used to intimidate political opponents as well, which means it can and probably has happened to gun owners. If it hasn’t, it will. That is unless this nonsense ends.
Maybe a long prison sentence will cut down on the stupid.
A guy can dream.