Mon, Jan 01, 2018 - Page 5 News List

US man arrested for deadly ‘swatting’

FAKE EMERGENCY:Police said the suspect might have pulled a deadly prank due to an online argument, but they did not think the victim was the intended target


Police in Los Angeles have arrested a man they suspect made a hoax emergency call that resulted in a SWAT police officer fatally shooting a man at the door of his own home in Kansas, law enforcement officials said on Saturday.

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston on Friday characterized the hoax call as “swatting” in which a “prankster” called 911 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping to draw a SWAT team to the victim’s address.

Authorities have not released the name of the man who was killed on Thursday, but relatives have identified him as 28-year-old Andrew Finch.

Tyler Barriss, 25, is suspected of making that call and was on Friday arrested in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Wichita Police Department said in statements e-mailed early on Saturday afternoon.

The two city police departments are working with the FBI on the case, Wichita police spokesman Paul Cruz said, but provided no further details including on possible charges or extradition.

In audio of the 911 call played by Wichita police at a news conference on Friday, a man said he shot his father in the head and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint.

The caller also said he poured gasoline inside the home “and I might just set it on fire.”

Officers subsequently surrounded the home at the address the caller provided and prepared for a hostage situation.

When Finch went to the door, police told him to put his hands up and move slowly.

However, the man moved a hand toward his waistband — a common place where guns are concealed — Livingston said.

An officer, fearing the man was reaching for a gun, fired a single shot.

Finch died a few minutes later at a hospital, police said.

Finch was unarmed, Livingston said.

The officer, a seven-year veteran of the department, is on paid leave pending the investigation.

Lisa Finch on Friday told reporters “that cop murdered my son over a false report in the first place.”

In addition to the 911 call, police also released a brief video of body camera footage from another officer at the scene.

It was difficult to see clearly what happened.

Dexerto, an online news service focused on gaming, reported that the series of events began with an online argument over a US$1 or US$2 wager in a Call of Duty game on UMG Gaming, which operates online tournaments including one involving Call of Duty.

Livingston said investigators were tracking online leads and a law enforcement official who earlier confirmed Barriss’ arrest said the shooting stemmed from a dispute over Call of Duty.

The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity.

The official said Barriss believed a person involved in the dispute lived at the address, but that investigators do not believe Finch was the intended target.

Finch’s mother said her son was not a gamer.

The official said it was not clear if Barriss was involved in the dispute or if he had been recruited to make the false call.

Court records show Barriss was convicted in 2016 on two counts of making a false bomb report to a TV station in Glendale, California, and sent to Los Angeles County jail for two years.

Jail records show he was released in January last year.

The FBI estimates that about 400 cases of swatting occur annually, with some using caller ID spoofing to disguise their number.

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