WICHITA, Kan. — A California “swatter” who made a fake 911 call after agreeing to help a video gamer get back at his “Call of Duty” rival, and whose actions resulted in the death of an innocent man, has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Eric Melgreen handed down the sentence to Tyler Barriss, 26, on Friday surrounding the death of Andrew Finch, 28.
According to The Washington Times, Barriss admitted in a plea agreement that Casey Viner, 19, asked him to make a prank call against his opponent, Shane Gaskill, 20, as the two had been playing a “Call of Duty: World War II” game with a $1.50 wager. Both men reside in Ohio.
Gaskill provided Viner with an address in Kansas, which was then used by Barriss as he called 911. Barriss, who has been sentenced before for making a false bomb threat, claimed that he—as the resident of that address—had shot his father in the head following an argument with his mother, and that he was now holding his siblings and mother hostage in the closet.
He also claimed that he had poured gasoline throughout the home, and was thinking of lighting it.
“We were arguing and I shot him in the head and he’s not breathing anymore,” Barriss stated, according to 911 audio released by police. “… Are you guys sending someone over here? ‘Cause then I’m definitely not going to put [the gun] away.”
He also asked the operator during the call if she had his address correct, repeating the information he had been provided. When asked if the house was one or two story, he replied that it was one story.
Law enforcement consequently descended on the Wichita address that Barriss read to the operator, which is actually a two story home. Andrew Finch, who knew none of the men and had no knowledge of the gaming dispute, soon came to the door to see what was happening.
Police ordered Finch to keep his hands up, but when he lowered them toward his waistband, one of the officers shot Finch, thinking that he was reaching for a weapon in light of the nature of the call.
“We learned through that call that the father was deceased, shot in the head. So that’s the information we were working off of,” Wichita Deputy Chief Troy Livingston told reporters. “Our officers came here preparing for a hostage situation. Several got in position. A male came to the front door, and one of our officers discharged his weapon.”
Finch, a married father of two, later died at the hospital. He had been unarmed, and his family said that there were no weapons in the house. His mother, Lisa, recalled to reporters what took place that night.
“I [saw] the red and blue lights flashing in my window. I heard my son scream. I got up, and then I heard a shot,” she recounted. “And as I was walking by … the police said, ‘Come out with your hands up.’”
“[The police] took me, my roommate and my granddaughter, who witnessed the shooting and had to step over her dying uncle’s body,” Finch continued. “They took us outside with no shoes on. They handcuffed us.”
Family members were later released after being detained and questioned.
Barriss was later taken into custody, and Finch’s family filed a civil lawsuit against the Wichita Police Department.
On Friday, Finch’s sister, Domenica, told reporters that the family’s pain did not end with the shooting death of Andrew Finch, as her niece committed suicide in January, and her boyfriend — who discovered her body, soon did the same.
“There are no words to express the toll that it’s taken,” she said, according to the Wichita Eagle. “The involvement of my niece and how she was treated that night [Andrew Finch died] has taken her life. The reaction to that has [now also] taken the life of another young man.”
Barriss reportedly apologized for his actions in court, stating, “If I could take it back, I would. … I’m just so sorry.”
Viner and Gaskill also are facing criminal repercussions surrounding the incident. Barriss had accepted a plea deal in November, pleading guilty to 51 federal charges.
Titus 3:3-5 states, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”