Swatting suspect makes first appearance before a Wichita judge
The man accused of making a false report to Wichita police that ended in an officer fatally shooting a 28-year-old man was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reporting a false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer in his first court appearance in Wichita.
His bond was set at $500,000.
Tyler Barriss, 25, was arrested in South Los Angeles on Dec. 29, less than 24 hours after someone called Wichita police claiming there was a homicide and hostage situation at 1033 W. McCormick. A man inside the home — identified by his family as Andrew Finch — opened his door to see why police were outside and was shot by an officer who was in a driveway across the street.
Barriss waived extradition to Kansas last week. He was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on Thursday afternoon. On a financial affidavit filed Friday, Barriss wrote that he had no address, is unemployed and has not worked in the past 6 months.
During his second short court appearance since his arrest, Barriss was asked to confirm his identity. Asked if he had any questions after his charge was formally read, Barriss answered, “no, I don’t.”
Barriss’ next court appearance will be later this month.
Asked what is happening with the other investigation in the case, involving the shooting, District Attorney Marc Bennett said it’s “still under review by me.”
“Once I make a determination, that will be made public either through charges or through a press conference like I normally do,” he said.
There’s no timeline for when a decision determining if the officer’s action were reasonable will be made, he said.
The case, Bennett said, has been unique and there’s not a lot of previous case law to reference. For that reason, the investigation remains ongoing and the charges against Barriss could be modified.
“I’ll continue to analyze this case,” he said. “While it seems like it’s been in the news now for a long time, hashed and rehashed, in reality, the homicide investigation is still in the early stages.”
The media interest in the story speaks volumes of its uniqueness, Bennett said. A journalist from Germany was at the hearing Friday.
Reports say Barriss was called by someone after a feud between two Call of Duty players broke out over a virtual “friendly kill” during a game on Dec. 28. There was a $1.50 wager over the game.
One of the players allegedly called Barriss and requested he “swat” another player. A man claiming he was responsible for the swatting said he was given an address on McCormick Street by another player, he said during an interview with the DramaAlert channel on YouTube.
There hasn’t yet been a decision on if those players could face charges, Bennett said.
Related stories: Similarity to Wichita swatting call led Canadian police to Tyler Barriss | Residents criticize city, police over deadly swatting case | Did officer act reasonably when he shot swatting victim is a key legal question | Who should question possible swatting calls: 911, police or both? | Police interviewing others in fatal swatting case, Wichita police chief says
Swatting is the term when someone calls police with a fake story of a serious ongoing crime – like a killing, hostage situation or bomb threat – in an effort to draw a large police presence to an address. It has gained traction in recent years among online gamers.
Police went to the address, expecting to find a homicide victim and two hostages. Instead, Finch opened his front door when he saw police lights outside and didn’t know why. Wichita police say he was given commands to keep his hands raised, but he reached toward his waistline multiple times, police have said.
When he reached his hands up suddenly, police say a officer who was standing in a driveway across the street from Finch shot him. The shooting is still under investigation, police said.