A man from California has been sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday for making hoax phone calls to emergency services. Prosecutors claimed that he was involved in a so-called ‘swatting’ incident on December of 2017 where Kansas police department responded to a false report and fatally gunned down an unarmed man.

The Barriss' Case

The man is Tyler Barriss, 26, from Los Angeles, California. He pleaded guilty on charge of making dozens of hoax calls, one of which resulted in the aforementioned incident back in 2018’s November in the U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kansas.

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Tyler Barriss in court.

"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,” Commenting on the case, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister stated.

The Deadly Prank

‘Swatting’ is a phenomenon when people - often gamers - falsely reported to emergency services an emergency that required tactical response from the police in the form of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams. Known to be especially aggressive and hostile in comparison to ordinary police forces due to the high level of threat that they face and tasked to resolve.

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A typical SWAT team is armed to the teeth with military-grade hardware, and does not hesitate to use deadly force.

The Kansas case stemmed from an online spat and argument between two gamers Shane Gaskill, 20, from Wichita and Casey Viner, 19, from Cincinnati. Prosecutors reported that they both had pleaded not guilty to the federal charges filed against them last June.

The following Wednesday will be the scheduled hearing date for Viner, while Gaskill is set for April 23rd in Wichita. Viner is said to have a high probability of pleading guilty to the charge.

When Viner and Gaskill were engaged during a session of online video gaming on December 28th, 2017, both got into an argument that went out of hand. Furious, Viner contacted Barriss - a well-known ‘swatter’ - and asked him to call the SWAT on the other.

Barriss was given by Viner an address that was given to him by Gaskill, not knowing that it was a fake address from Wichita. Barriss proceeded to make a hoax phone call to the local authorities, saying that he had killed his father with a gun, holding his mother and brother at gunpoint, and would set fire to the house as well as committing suicide. This prompted a swift reaction from the local SWAT forces.

When they arrived at the address, officers falsely shot Andrew Finch, 28.

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Andrew Finch, 28, fatally shot at his doorstep by officers believing him to be the perpetrator of a false murder claim.

Conviction

Aside from this charge, Barriss also admitted to making hoax phone calls about bomb threats in numerous other states such as the District of Columbia and all the way to Canada.

State charges were also filed against Barriss in Kansas, but following his sentencing, they were dismissed according to the Sedgwick County Office.