Crime & Courts

Wichita, home of fatal ‘swatting’ case, launches alert system for gamers and police

Wichita Police Department launches a swatting alert system

Citizens now have the ability to create an alert for their address that would be made available to responding officers. This alert would create awareness for officers responding to potential swatting incidents.
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Citizens now have the ability to create an alert for their address that would be made available to responding officers. This alert would create awareness for officers responding to potential swatting incidents.

Wichita police will begin placing alerts on addresses where potential swatting targets could be living, the department announced Friday.

The program is voluntary and open to any person who thinks they could fall victim to swatting, a false report to law enforcement meant to draw a large police presence to a particular address. The practice has been growing in popularity on the fringes of the online gaming community, including a case in Wichita that ended in tragedy.

In Wichita’s swatting case, police shot an unwitting and unarmed man on his front porch after Tyler Barriss, 26, called from California and reported a murder and hostage situation at 1033 W. McCormick, the former address of a gamer involved an online dispute.

Wichita police swarmed the home and when 28-year-old Andrew Finch stepped out onto his front porch, he was shot and killed by Officer Justin Rapp.

Finch was not involved in the online game, and his family has filed a lawsuit against the city. Rapp, who is still employed by the Wichita Police Department, was not charged in Finch’s death. Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for a host of swattings and bomb hoaxes he made to schools, government buildings and businesses across the country.

“Anyone can be the target of swatting, but victims are typically associated with the tech industry, video game industry, or the online broadcasting community,” Wichita police Officer Paul Cruz said in a news release.

The swatting alert system would place an alert on addresses provided by potential victims. Those alerts would be available to first responders, including Sedgwick County 911 and the officers responding to a call.

“This alert would not minimize or slow emergency services but rather would create awareness for officers responding to potential swatting incidents,” Cruz said.

Request forms to put an alert on an address is available at wichitapolice.com and local police stations.

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Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.
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