Pranks happen every day. They’re often a way to show friendship and bond over something funny. However, for one California man, pranks were a way to get revenge and to spread violence. Because he was making emergency calls across the country, police would arrive with guns drawn, ready for violence – but the people he was reporting were doing nothing wrong, except beating him at an online video game.
Now the California man, 26-year-old Tyler R. Barriss has been sentenced to twenty years in prison for making the 911 call that ended up resulting in the death of another young man. In 2017, 28-year-old Andrew Finch drew his last breath after police shot him dead. The incident happened because Barriss called in a fake emergency, which resulted in the police sending a heavily armed SWAT team to Finch’s home.
As it turned out, an Ohio video game player hired Barriss to “SWAT” the home where Finch lived. The reason? The Ohio man and another gamer had a dispute over a $1.50 bet in their game Call of Duty: WWII.” However, Finch was not the man he wanted. Little did the Ohio man and Barriss know, but the address they had was old.
Barriss pleaded guilty to 51 federal charges that were related to fake calls and threats. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren sentenced Barriss to twenty years of hard time.
When the Call of Duty player from Ohio got miffed with Finch, he hired Barriss to conduct a hit on the young man.
However, the address that Barriss called the SWAT to was old, and the perpetrator no longer lived there.
Barriss called the police in Wichita to report a shooting and kidnapping. When Finch opened the door, the SWAT team shot him and killed him. Finch was unarmed and not dangerous.
Barriss had many charges against him. But the case in Wichita helped to consolidate them all. While the prosecution asked the judge to put him in prison for twenty-five years, the defense asked for 20. The judge followed the guidance of the defense team and gave Barriss a lighter sentence.
“We hope that this will send a strong message about swatting, which is a juvenile and senseless practice,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said to reporters after Barriss was sentenced to two decades behind bars. “We’d like to put an end to it within the gaming community and in any other context.”
Gamers are known for having short tempers and complexes. That’s why swatting is attractive to them. It’s a cowardly way for them to “get revenge” on a player who is better than them. They wouldn’t dare face the person in a fight in person.
The FBI first identified swatting as a threat back in 2008, because it had become a common practice among the country’s most nefarious gamers.
Although Barriss got a lot of time, the man who called for the hit, 19-year-old Casey Viner and the intended target, 20-year-old Shane Gaskill, were charged as co-conspirators. They have pleaded not guilty, but Viner may be looking to change his plea.
The officer who shot and killed Finch claimed he was reaching for a gun in his waistband. He was unarmed. Prosecutors have not charged the officer.