Crime & Courts

Two men accused of orchestrating deadly swatting call plead not guilty

Shane Gaskill, 19, leaves the federal courthouse in Wichita on Wednesday. Gaskill pleaded not guilty to charges around his involvement in the orchestration of the swatting call that ended with a 28-year-old man being killed by a Wichita police officer.
Shane Gaskill, 19, leaves the federal courthouse in Wichita on Wednesday. Gaskill pleaded not guilty to charges around his involvement in the orchestration of the swatting call that ended with a 28-year-old man being killed by a Wichita police officer. The Wichita Eagle

Two of the three men accused of orchestrating the swatting call that ended with a 28-year-old man being killed by a Wichita police officer were in federal court on Wednesday afternoon.

Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita and Casey Viner, 18, of Ohio both pleaded not guilty to their charges.

Andrew Finch, a father of two, was killed on Dec. 28 when police responded to his home at 1033 W. McCormick on an emergency call that there had been a homicide and hostage situation in the home. When Finch opened the door, police say he didn't comply with commands to keep his hands raised. Officer Justin Rapp fired one shot, killing Finch.

Police say they didn’t know the call was a hoax until after Finch was dead and they got inside the house.

Gaskill and Viner were released on a $10,000 bond. They don’t have to pay the bond unless they violate the terms of their release, which include a ban of playing online video games and having contact with each other or Tyler Barriss, the man accused of making the swatting call. Both are ordered to live with their parents and maintain employment. Neither can leave their states.

Gaskill lives in Wichita and used to reside at the 1033 W. McCormick address, according to court documents. He is charged with several counts of obstruction of justice, wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Viner lives in Ohio with his father, who is a law enforcement officer, his attorney said. He is charged with several counts of wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

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.

The 29-page indictment against Viner and Gaskill was unsealed in late May in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. It charges 25-year-old Tyler Barriss, who is facing state court charges including involuntary manslaughter, with false information and hoaxes, cyberstalking, threatening to kill another or damage property by fire, interstate threats, conspiracy and several counts of wire fraud, according to federal court records.

Barriss is scheduled to be back in state court at the end of June.

Online gamers in December said a feud over an accidental, virtual "killing" of a character in a Call of Duty World War II game with a $1.50 wager led to the fatal swatting call.

At some point during the game, Viner became upset with Gaskill and is accused of contacting Barriss to "swat" Gaskill.

Barriss and Gaskill began communicating over Twitter and police say Gaskill gave Barriss the 1033 W. McCormick address as his own. Court documents found by The Eagle show that Gaskill's family used to live at that address, but the family was evicted in 2016.

Ten days before the fatal swatting call in Wichita, a house in Ohio where Viner's family used to live was swatted — and the evidence points toward Barriss, police there have said.

In this video from the YouTube channel DramaAlert, a man who claims responsibility for a fake call to Wichita police answers questions about that call. The 911 call led to the death of Andrew Finch, 28. (Video courtesy of DramaAlert)

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