A serial prankster arrested for making a hoax emergency call that resulted in police shooting dead an innocent man at his home claims someone else gave him the wrong address.
Gamer Tyler Barris, 25, was arrested in Los Angeles on Friday – a day after 28-year-old Andrew Finch was fatally shot by officers at his home in Kansas.
Police characterized the hoax call as ‘swatting’ and blamed a ‘prankster’ for calling 911 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at the victim’s address.
Barriss is accused of making that hoax call following a dispute over ‘Call of Duty’.
Gamer Tyler Barris, 25, (left) was arrested in Los Angeles on Friday – a day after 28-year-old Andrew Finch (right) was fatally shot by officers at his home in Kansas
Dexerto, an online news service focused on gaming, reported that the deadly series of events began with an online argument over a $1 or $2 wager in a ‘Call of Duty’ game on UMG Gaming, which operates online tournaments including one involving ‘Call of Duty.’
Tyler Barris, 25, was arrested in Los Angeles on Friday at the rehab facility where he had been living
Authorities said Barriss believed a person involved in the dispute lived at the address, but that investigators don’t believe Finch was the intended target.
A man claiming to be Barriss admitted during an interview on the DramaAlert YouTube channel to making the hoax call but said he didn’t believe he was responsible for the victim’s death.
He also suggested that someone had given him the wrong address.
‘It’s my personal belief that I didn’t cause someone to die,’ a man claiming to be Barriss said during the YouTube video in the hours before his arrest.
‘The call was made by me, but as far as the whole incident you could point the finger at a few different people. You could point the finger at the cop that shot him, you could point the finger at the guy who made the call. You could point the finger at the person that gave the address.’
A man known online as Swautistic admitted to renting out his ‘swatting’ services to other gamers for revenge.
Francis Finch, left, and Tawny Unruh stand quietly on the very spot where Andrew Finch was shot and killed by Wichita Police on Thursday night
Andrew Finch may have been the victim of an internet prank known as ‘swatting’ – where someone makes up a false report in order to get a SWAT team to respond to another person’s address. It appears that one user gave another user a false address, which ended up being Finch’s residence
‘Bomb threats are more fun and cooler than swats in my opinion and I should have just stuck to that,’ Swautistic told the Washington Post on Friday.
‘But I began making $ doing some swat requests.’
Police have not confirmed whether Barriss and Swautistic are the same person.
Swatting is a practice known in the online gaming world where a SWAT team is tricked into responding to the home of another person by claiming there was an emergency that warranted it.
Court records show Barriss was convicted in 2016 on two counts of making a false bomb report to a TV station in Glendale, California, and sent to Los Angeles County jail for two years. Jail records show he was released in January.
Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston said at a news conference Friday that a prankster called 911 claiming to be an occupant of the home, saying he had shot his father and was holding his mother and a sibling hostage.
The caller, speaking with relative calm, also said he poured gasoline inside the home ‘and I might just set it on fire.’
Officers subsequently surrounded the home at the address the caller provided and prepared for a hostage situation.
In addition to the 911 call, police also released a brief video of body camera footage (above) from another officer at the scene. It was difficult to see clearly what happened
When Finch went to the door, police told him to put his hands up and move slowly.
But Livingston said the man moved a hand toward his waistband – a common place where guns are concealed.
An officer, fearing the man was reaching for a gun, fired a single shot.
Finch died a few minutes later at a hospital. Livingston said Finch was unarmed.
The officer, a seven-year veteran of the department, is on paid leave pending the investigation.
Finch’s devastated family are now pleading for answers.
‘That cop murdered my son over a false report in the first place,’ the victim’s mother Lisa Finch said.
His brother, Jerome, told the Wichita Eagle that Finch had been turning his life around in recent years.
He had spent most of his childhood in foster care and did time in juvenile detention, as well as part of his adult life in prison for criminal discharge of a firearm.
‘Then for this to happen, you know, when he’s bouncing back from all the things that have happened to him, the things he had to go through, the trials, the struggles he had to overcome, and then for this to happen,’ Jerome said.
His mother Lisa Finch (above) said that her son, Andrew, was unarmed when he opened the door to the family’s home Thursday night after hearing something
Lisa Finch said her son (above) screamed and was shot. She said the family then was forced outside barefoot in freezing cold and that her granddaughter was forced to step over her dying uncle. Lisa has said that her son was ‘murdered’
‘Andy was very loyal and very kind and would do for people whatever needed to be done. Family meant a lot to him. He was trying to do the right thing,’ his mother said. ‘He was trying really hard.’
Authorities have accused Barriss of calling 911 and concocting the hostage situation story.
They say Barriss then allegedly gave 911 dispatchers Finch’s address in Wichita.
Barriss was arrested on Friday after LAPD officers went to the rehab facility where he was living.
A spokeswoman says a company that runs online gaming tournaments is assisting authorities as they investigate the fatal shooting.
UMG Gaming operates online gaming tournaments, including one for the Call of Duty game.
The shooting happened on the 1000 block of McCormick Street in Wichita on Thursday night
‘We woke this morning to horrible news about an innocent man losing his life,’ Shannon Gerritzen, a UMG vice president, said in an email to The Associated Press.
‘Our hearts go out to his loved ones. We are doing everything we can to assist the authorities in this matter.’
Some false calls to police can be a felony punishable by up to 13 months in prison for a first-time offender under Kansas law.
‘I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION,’ said one gamer on Twitter, who others said made the swatting call.
His account has since been suspended.
‘That kids house that I swatted is on the news’, the same account tweeted.
The person who was allegedly supposed to be the target of the prank tweeted: ‘Someone tried to swat me and got an innocent man killed.’
TRANSCRIPT OF 911 CALL
Dispatcher: This is 911, what’s going on… Hello?
D: This is 911. What’s going on?
C: Um, I recently got disconnected. I had told you guys everything that happened about the argument with my mom and dad.
D: OK. What’s your address? Hello?
C: Yeah, um, it’s 1033 West McCormick Street.
D: OK. Tell me exactly what happened.
C: We were arguing and I shot him in the head and he’s not breathing anymore.
D: OK. So what’s going on right now? Are you there?
D: OK. Do you have any weapons on you?
C: Yeah, I do.
D: What kind of weapons do you have?
C: Um, a handgun.
D: What kind of handgun is it?
C: I don’t know. It’s my dad’s.
D: What color is it?
C: It’s black.
D: Where exactly are you at in the house?
C: Um, by the closet.
D: OK. What closet?
C: My mom’s.
D: Where’s that at in the house?
C: In her room. Which is where she’s at, and my little brother.
D: You have a little brother?
C: Yeah. I was on the phone with you guys earlier, um, telling you guys about it. It got disconnected.
D: OK. Well, we’re gonna try to get you some help. Where exactly in the house? Is this a one-story or two-story house?
C: It’s one story.
D: Is it towards the front of the house? The back of the house?
C: Um, well, like, it’s towards the back, I guess. I’m just pointing the gun at them, making sure they stay in the closet, my mom and my little brother.
D: OK. Is there any way you can put the gun [inaudible]?
C: No. Are you guys sending someone over here? ‘Cause then I’m definitely not going to put it away.
D: OK. I’m just going to go ahead and stay on the phone with you, OK?
C: That’s fine. Until they get here, or?
D: As long as you need me to, OK?
C: Yeah, I’m thinking about, um…’Cause I already poured gasoline all over the house and I might just start a fire.
D: OK, well, we don’t need to do that, OK?
C: In a little bit, I might.
D: Why would you do that?
C: Do you have my address correct?
D: Can you verify it for me again?
C: Um, it’s 1033 West McCormick Street, um, my zip code is 67213.
D: OK. So, which way does your house face? Does your front door face north, south, east, west?
C: I don’t know. It’s just facing the street…My dad isn’t freezing, and it’s giving me anxiety and making me like paranoid. Hello?
D: I’m still here. I’m still here, OK?
C: Yeah, me too.
D: OK, are you white? Black? Asian? Hispanic? Are you there?
D: Are you white? Black? Asian? Hispanic?
C: [Inaudible] It was an accident, so…
D: OK, that’s fine. Are you there? Talk to me. Hello? Are you there? [Static heard in background] Hello?