(Photo courtesy of Irfan Khan/AP)
Two additional men have been hit with federal charges in the Wichita, Kansas SWATing case that left one man dead after an argument over a Call of Duty match.
Last December, Andrew Finch was killed by police after Tyler Barriss, known online as SWAUtistic, allegedly called a SWAT team to his home. Barriss was egged on by Casey Viner, who had a disagreement with teammate Shane Gaskill over a wager in a UMG Gaming Call of Duty match. Viner asked Barriss to SWAT Gaskill, which involves making a false claim to police about an emergency situation in order to convince law enforcement to arrive at an address on high alert and often focus on subduing perceived danger. Gaskill provided an old address to Viner and Barriss and told the two men to go ahead and sent the SWAT team there, which turned out to be the residence of an uninvolved man named Andrew Finch. Barriss did, claiming a hostage situation was taking place, and police killed Finch at his doorstep.
Soon after charges were filed against Barriss, he turned himself in from his Los Angeles residence and was extradited to Kansas. Now, prosecutors have also charged Viner and Gaskill, as well. Viner is being charged with “wire fraud, conspiracy to make false/hoax reports, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.” Gaskill, meanwhile, is facing charges of “obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and wire fraud.”
Barriss himself is facing new federal charges of “making false/hoax reports to emergency services, cyberstalking, making interstate threats, making interstate threats to harm by fire, wire fraud and conspiracy to make false/hoax reports.” If found guilty on all of these charges, all three men could end up with fines totaling a quarter million dollars each and may face life in federal prison.
Barriss is still facing charges in Canada after targeting a woman online for harassment.
Earlier this year, Kansas legislators introduced the Andrew T. Finch bill, HB 2581, to the state legislature to increase state penalties for false emergency reports leading to injury or death. The bill was signed into law by Kansas governor Jeff Coyler on April 26.
Watching this tragedy unfold over the last six months has been heartbreaking, but it seems like prosecutors are realizing the world is watching and are taking it seriously. Hopefully they deter anyone from trying it again.