Among the most diabolical of pranks, a “swatting” incident led to the shooting death by Wichita police of an innocent man on Thursday evening. The man behind the swatting, 25-year-old Tyler Raj Barriss, was arrested in Los Angeles, his home town, on Friday.
Apparently upset over having lost a $2 bet with a fellow video gamer, Barriss called the Wichita Police from Los Angeles to set the swatting incident in motion. Pretending to be the rival gamer, Barriss claimed that he shot his father in the head, that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint, and that he was now ready to burn the house down. The call prompted the SWAT team to descend on the address Barriss had given them, thus the word “swatting.”
Barriss, however, had given the police the wrong address. When Andrew Finch came to the door, officers screamed at him to put his hands in the air. Unaware of why a SWAT team would be at his home, Finch did not react quickly enough, and a police officer shot him thinking he was reaching for a gun. He was not. The Wichita Police will have a lot of explaining to do when the dust settles. Finch was a 28-year-old father of two.
According to the FBI, roughly 400 cases of swatting occur each year. Barriss, who operated under the Twitter handle “SWAuTistic,” apparently took some pride in his swatting ability. In true social media fashion, Barriss gave an online youtube video interview just hours after the incident and before he had been taken into custody.
“‘I don’t think that I should not do jail time,” said Barriss, “but I don’t think I should do life or get charged with murder, that’s all. I’m not saying that I’m saying I shouldn’t do any time at all though, because admittedly yeah I was involved.”
In 2015, Barriss was arrested in California for a bomb threat made to ABC studios in Glendale. At the time of the Wichita incident, he resided in a transitional living facility in Los Angeles. He had obviously not transitioned enough.