His ‘swatting’ prank call caused a man’s death. Now he’ll serve 20 years in prison

Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAYPublished 3:17 p.m. ET March 30, 2019 | Updated 4:33 p.m. ET March 30, 2019

Police in Los Angeles have arrested a man they suspect made a hoax emergency call that resulted in a SWAT police officer fatally shooting a man at the door of his own home in Kansas, a law enforcement official said Saturday.

A California man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for making a hoax 911 call that resulted in an innocent Kansas man’s death.

Tyler Barriss, 26, had pleaded guilty to multiple charges stemming from the “swatting” call – a practice where an individual makes a phony call to 911 to force police to respond with SWAT teams.

“Swatting is no prank,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement. “Sending police and emergency responders rushing to anyone’s home based on utterly false information as some kind of joke shows an incredible disregard for the safety of other people.”

The 20-year sentence, handed out Friday, is believed to be the longest ever in a “swatting” hoax case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas said in a statement.

In December 2017, Barriss made a 911 call reporting a fake hostage situation after he had gotten into an argument with another gamer playing “Call of Duty,” police said. Barriss gave an address he thought to be the other gamer’s, authorities said.

But that call led to Wichita police surrounding the home of Andrew Finch, 28, who had no connection to the situation.

“When officers arrived, they believed a man was inside who had killed his own father and was holding family members hostage,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in its statement. “The man who came outside to face police, however, had done nothing wrong and did not know about the swatting call.

Authorities say Finch dropped his hands unexpectedly and that’s when police fired at him. Finch later died at a hospital. The officer who shot him would not face charges, prosecutors said last April.

“I hope that this prosecution and lengthy sentence sends a strong message that will put an end to the juvenile and reckless practice of ‘swatting’ within the gaming community, as well as in any other context,” McAllister said Friday.

Barriss has also pleaded guilty to charges in Washington, D.C., for making hoax bomb threat calls to the FBI and FCC as well as in the Central District of California for more fake bomb threats and phony emergency calls.

Two other men, Casey Viner, 19, of Ohio, and Shane Gaskill, 20, of Kansas, await trial for charges in connection with the Wichita case. Prosecutors say Viner allegedly asked Barriss to “swat” Gaskill, who then allegedly gave out an address that wasn’t his.

“I also hope that today’s result helps bring some peace to the Finch family and some closure to the Wichita community,” McAllister added.

Contributing: Brett Molina and Cydney Henderson

Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller.