Crime & Courts

Man claiming to be ‘swatter’ in Wichita shooting says it’s not his fault someone died

A man who said he placed the “swatting” call that led to the police shooting of Andrew Finch told an interviewer on YouTube that he was not responsible for Finch’s death.

“It’s my personal belief that I didn’t cause someone to die,” said the man Friday during an interview on the DramaAlert YouTube channel.

“Of course I was involved,” the man told DramaAlert. “The call was made by me, but as far as the whole incident, you could point the finger at a few different people. You could point the finger at the cop that shot him, you could point the finger at the guy who made the call. You could point the finger at the person that gave the address.”

DramaAlert said it had reached out to the man who is known by the Twitter handle of @SWAuTistic after seeing a tweet in which @SWAuTistic took responsibility for the swatting.

Online gamers identified the owner of that Twitter account as the person who made the swatting call that led to Finch’s death.

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A Tweet from the same account that night said: “The kids house that I swatted is on the news.”

DramaAlert has more than 3.2 million subscribers and posts news videos about the social interactions in online entertainment, according to the page.

Suspect arrested

Los Angeles police have arrested Tyler R. Barriss, 25, on suspicion of making the swatting call that ended in the fatal police shooting.

Barriss was arrested on a felony warrant Friday afternoon in South Los Angeles. He is being held without bond and could be in court as early as Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Officer Mike 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.

“Swatting” is the term used when someone makes a call to a police department with a false story of an ongoing crime – often involving killing or hostages – in an attempt to draw a large number of police officers to an address. Swatting has gained traction across the country with online gamers.

In this case, the caller told Wichita 911 that he had shot his father in the head and was holding his mother and a sibling hostage. He gave 911 Andrew Finch’s address, acted as if he was in the house, and told the dispatcher that he had a black handgun and he was not going to put it down.

But the caller wasn’t in the house. And Finch had nothing to do with the feud between two gamers that led to the fake call, said his mother, Lisa Finch, and gamers online. Some gamers have said the caller didn’t know the address he had wasn’t for one of the two men involved in the feud.

“Someone tried to swat me and got an innocent man killed,” the intended victim said on Twitter.

‘I know the police aren’t going to catch me’

During the DramaAlert interview with the man who said he made the swatting call, the man was asked to explain what happened.

“I was minding my own business at the library and someone contacted me and said, ‘Hey dude, this (expletive) just gave me an address and he thinks nothing is going to happen, do you want to prove him wrong?’” the man said. “And I said, ‘Sure, I love swatting kids who think nothing is going to happen.’”

Sometimes, he said, he gets paid for making swatting calls.

The man told the interviewer that he doesn’t normally “swat” people. He prefers to “just evacuate stuff,” he said. He does it for fun, and tries to get on TV.

“I know the police aren’t going to catch me for doing that,” he said.

Deadly shooting in Wichita

While at home with his mom, niece and a roommate on Thursday evening, Finch noticed red and blue lights flashing outside and went to see what was happening, his mom said Friday.

Finch, 28, was killed by a Wichita police officer after he opened the front door. As he stepped outside, police gave Finch commands to raise his hands and walk toward them, Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston said. He did for a short period of time, then lowered them, Livingston said. Finch was asked again to raise his hands.

Livingston said Finch lowered his hands again, then suddenly raised them. An officer across 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,” he said. “Fearing for those officers’ safety, the officer on the north side fired one round.”

Finch was unarmed, police said.

Previous arrests

Barriss was arrested in 2015 in connection with false bomb threats to ABC7 News in Glendale, California, according to a 2015 news release from the city of Glendale. The calls forced the studio to evacuate.

The threats were made Sept. 30 and Oct. 9 that year. No suspicious devices or explosives were found either time.

On Oct. 13, 2015, police searched Barriss’ home in Chatsworth, California, and learned he was living with his grandmother and was unemployed. There was no evidence that showed Barriss would have followed through on his threat, the release said.

The Los Angeles Times reported the Barriss was charged with two felony counts of making a false report of a bomb to an agency or business, one felony count of making criminal threats and one misdemeanor count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. It reported that prosecutors said Barriss threatened a relative to prevent her from reporting the incidents.

He was convicted in 2016 of two counts of making bomb threats. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in county jail. It’s not clear how much time he served.

In January and August of this year, he was convicted of violating protective orders. He was sentenced to 364 days in jail in January and 210 days in August. It is not clear how much time he served.

Nichole Manna: 316-269-6752, @NicholeManna

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