'Swatting' led to fatal shooting of Andrew Finch, police say
Los Angeles police have arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of making the swatting call that ended with a Wichita man being killed by police.
LAPD Officer Mike Lopez identified that man as Tyler R. Barriss. Lopez said Barriss was arrested on a felony warrant at 3:15 p.m. pacific time in South Los Angeles. He is being held without bond and could be in court as early as Tuesday, Lopez said.
Barriss is accused of reporting a fake homicide and hostage situation to the Wichita Police Department just after 6:15 p.m. Thursday.
The practice is called "swatting" and happens when someone makes a call to a police department with a false story of an ongoing crime – often with killing or hostages involved – in an attempt to draw a large number of police officers to a particular address.
Swatting has gained traction across the country with online gamers. Those who try to cause the swatting incident will use caller ID spoofing or other techniques to disguise their number as being local. Or they call local non-emergency numbers instead of 911, according to 911.gov.
On Thursday, Deputy Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston said Wichita’s City Hall received a call that there was a hostage situation in a house at 1033 W. McCormick — and that someone had been shot in the head.
"That was the information we were working off of," he said, explaining that officers went to the house ready for a hostage situation and they "got into position."
"A male came to the front door," Livingston said Thursday night. "As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon."
That man was identified by family as 28-year-old Andrew “Andy” Finch.
Both his mother and Livingston have said Finch was unarmed when he opened the door.
Livingston said when the door opened, officers gave Finch commands to put his hands up and walk toward them. He complied for a "very short time" and put his hands back down. He raised them again, and then lowered them for a second time, Livingston said.
"The male then turned towards the officers on the east side of the residence, lowered his hands to the waistband again, then suddenly pulled them back up towards those officers at the east," he said. "The officers on the north side of the street feared the male pulled a weapon from his waistband, retrieved a gun and was in the process of pointing it at the officers to the east. Fearing for those officers’ safety, the officer on the north side fired one round."
Finch, a father of two children, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
“The irresponsible acts of a prankster put people’s lives at risk,” Livingston said. “The incident is a nightmare for everyone involved, including the family and our police department. Due to the action of a prankster, we have an innocent victim. If the false police call had not been made, we would not have been there.”
Online gamers have said in multiple Twitter posts that the shooting was the result of a "swatting" call involving two gamers.
Andrew Finch was not involved in the online game, according to his mother and people in the gaming community.
"He doesn’t play video games," Finch said. "He has better things to do with his time."
Those in the gaming community told The Eagle throughout Friday afternoon that the man who made the police call — and had claimed responsibility for the call on Twitter — had been known for other swatting cases.
According to the LA Times, Barris was arrested in 2015 for making false bomb threats to ABC7 in Glendale. The calls forced the studio to evacuate.
Barriss allegedly made the threats on Sept. 30 and Oct. 9 that year, and later threatened a relative to prevent her from reporting the incidents, the newspaper reported said.