Investigation Discovery is examining a case of swatting in Wichita, Kansas, in 2017, that led to the death of Andrew Finch, when police officers were falsely directed to his home.
This case brought to the world’s attention the practice known as swatting, which is a form of retaliation or prank that involves falsely reporting someone to the emergency services in the hope that a SWAT team will descend on their home.
On December 28, 2017, the police in Wichita received a phone call telling them that a homicide and hostage situation had occurred at an address in their city.
When officers arrived at the scene, Andrew Finch was shot dead by the cops on his front porch. He had been unarmed and was innocent of any crime. The call to the police had been made by a serial hoaxer or swatter.
The call had been made by a man called Tyler Barriss from California. He was well known within the online gaming community as someone who had regularly engaged in swatting, and he had made numerous 911 calls right across the nation.
An Ohio based gamer by the name of Casey Viner had become embroiled in an argument with Wichita based gamer Shane Gaskill over a $1.50 bet from the Call of Duty: WWII video game.
Tyler Barriss was given wrong address in swatting death case
Viner felt that he had been badly wronged by Gaskill, so he recruited Barriss to “swat” Gaskill. Viner gave the hoaxer an old address that Gaskill had previously provided for him.
Gaskill was well aware that Barriss was going to attempt to send a swat team to his address. He had taunted Barriss on Twitter and provided him with the same old address; he wrote: “try something.” This action would later land Gaskill with a charge of co-conspiracy.
Barriss did try something, and tragically, it ended in the death of an innocent man, Andrew Finch.
In November 2018, Barriss pleaded guilty to a total of 51 charges stemming from phony emergency calls, one of which had led to the death of Finch.
In an unprecedented case, Barriss was sentenced to spend at least 20 years in a federal prison.
Viner and Gaskill were both accused of being co-conspirators and faced charges of obstructing justice.
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The Deadly Hoax airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.