Crime & Courts

Barriss, at center of fatal Wichita 'swatting,' also charged with D.C. bomb threats

Tyler Barriss appears before Judge Bruce Brown on Tuesday morning in a preliminary hearing in the swatting death of Andrew Finch in December 2017. The 25-year-old Los Angeles man is accused of making the "swatting" call that led a Wichita police officer to shoot Finch.
Tyler Barriss appears before Judge Bruce Brown on Tuesday morning in a preliminary hearing in the swatting death of Andrew Finch in December 2017. The 25-year-old Los Angeles man is accused of making the "swatting" call that led a Wichita police officer to shoot Finch. Special to The Eagle

Criminal charges continue to mount against Wichita swatting suspect Tyler Barriss.

On Thursday, a federal court in the nation's capital unsealed a grand jury indictment against the 25-year-old Los Angeles man accusing him of making threats against government buildings in Washington, D.C., in December.

United States Attorney Stephen McAllister describes a federal indictment that was unsealed Wednesday naming three men in a "Swatting" incident. McAllister named Tyler Barriss along with Casey Viner of Ohio and Shane Gaskill of Wichita.

Barriss is charged in that case with two counts of threatening and conveying false information concerning use of an explosive, according to the indictment. The charges stem from a Dec. 14 bomb threat phoned into the Federal Communications Commission headquarters and a Dec. 22 bomb threat at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, according to the indictment. The J. Edgar Hoover Building is home to the FBI's headquarters.

The indictment was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia last month. A grand jury returned it April 11 but it was under seal until Thursday.

The documents are being made public a day after federal prosecutors in Kansas announced that Barriss and two online video gamers, 18-year-old Casey Viner and 19-year-old Shane Gaskill, were being indicted in connection with the Dec. 28 swatting death of 28-year-old Wichitan Andrew Finch.

Barriss remains in jail in Wichita. An arrest warrant has been issued in the FBI and FCC headquarters bomb threat case, but it's unclear when he'll appear in court on those charges.

If convicted in the District of Columbia case, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each count.

The most serious crime he's charged with in the Kansas federal indictment — false information and hoaxes resulting in a death — could send him to prison for life, if he's convicted.

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Finch was shot to death by Wichita police Officer Justin Rapp after Barriss allegedly phoned in a fake murder and hostage situation at 1033 W. McCormick in Wichita on Dec. 28.

A feud between Viner and Gaskill over an accidental killing of a character in a Call of Duty match with a $1.50 wager led to the swatting, according to reports.

Viner contacted Barriss and asked him to swat Gaskill during the fight. Gaskill gave Barriss an old address — 1033 W. McCormick — which Barriss provided to a 911 dispatcher, according to the Kansas indictment.

Finch had no knowledge of the Call of Duty dispute and was not involved in online gaming. He was shot after he stepped onto his porch.

Barriss, a known swatter, also is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge in Kansas state court in Finch's death. The officer is not facing charges.

Documents filed in the Washington, D.C., case say Barriss also has an outstanding arrest warrant for a bomb hoax at a Florida high school and for a swatting incident in Calgary, Alberta.

He also "is a target in a wide-ranging, active, and ongoing federal grand jury investigation in California regarding a large number of hoax bomb threats and swattings committed by the defendant in recent years," according to a motion made by prosecutors in the District of Columbia case.

"That investigation has yielded evidence that the defendant conspired or otherwise engaged with other individuals in the course of committing at least some of those offenses, as well as evidence that, in so doing, the defendant and others committed certain federal crimes, including wire fraud and identity theft," the documents say.

In the Washington, D.C., bomb threats, Barriss allegedly called the FCC building, saying there were explosives inside set to detonate, as a hearing was taking place, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release. The FCC chairman stopped the meeting and the building was evacuated.

In the FBI headquarters threat, Barriss allegedly called after work hours and said that explosives had been placed inside and around the outside of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the Justice Department said.

Law enforcement determined both calls were hoaxes.

Wichita police Officer Justin Rapp testifies Tuesday about firing the fatal shot. Rapp was testifying in the preliminary hearing for Tyler Barriss, who is charged in the death of Andrew Finch after he made a "swatting" call.



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