Questions Arise About Swatting Prank That Ended In Death

There was a swatting incident on December 30, 2017 in Wichita, Kansas.  I’ve been reporting on it on my other blog.  Some of you might already know that my other blog deals solely with cyber abuse, whether harassment, stalking, swatting, threats, spoofing, or combinations.

Today after reading some articles and comments on Twitter about the most recent swatting incident, I asked myself if there is anything I could have done to make information more available; to inform the public that spill-over of internet harassment into the personal lives of target victims is dangerous.  However, as with other issues, people don’t seem to take an interest unless major media reports it first or unless it happens to them.  Then too, I’m only a drop of water in a vast ocean.

Swatting is a prank where someone makes a call to a police department with a false story of a happening crime involving killing or hostages and guns.  Police arrive and at times, SWAT is dispatched.

In order to pull-off the prank, an address is needed and that is generally obtained by doxing targets.  Doxing is the seeking and gathering of personal information of others to use to harass, cause them fear and distress, post publicly on the internet, and yes — to swat or encourage others to do so.

On November 23, 2014, I blogged about a civil case filed in Northern Illinois that involved swatting.  The plaintiff in that case was awarded $50,000 by a jury.

On February 9. 2015, I blogged about a case where a Nevada man swatted a resident of Naperville, IL and was extradited to Illinois for prosecution.  The State’s Attorney stated that he would seek legislation to make swatting a felony.

On May 20, 2015, I recapped those two cases in another blog post about a couple arrested for harassment by eletronic media.

In August 2017, I wrote a post about a Bill introduced by Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA).  The Bill is H.R. 3067 and is titled the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2017.  If passed, it will make swatting and doxing federal crimes.

Now that the father of a 2-year old and 7-year old is dead because of a swatting prank, Kansas.com, the Post Gazette, and the New York Times among other news sources, are reporting on the introduced Bill and asking the question, who is at blame for Andrew Finch’s death?

In this case, Tyler R. Barriss, 25-years old, has been arrested for the Wichita swatting.  It began as a feud on a gaming channel.  When threatened with being swatted, the person targeted for swatting gave the perpetrator a fraudulent address.

Barris is alleged to have called the Wichita City Hall, reporting that his dad had been killed.  City Hall lost connection and contacted 911 who called the telephone number received by City Hall.  Barriss then allegedly told 911 dispatch that he killed his dad, was holding his mom and little brother hostage, and had poured gasoline throughout the house and might set it on fire.

The dispatcher asked questions, such as if it was a one story or two-story house. Barriss answered it is a one-story house.  It’s not known if the dispatcher reported that because the address turned out to be a two-story house.

I did not hear the dispatcher ask for the caller’s name.

When asked if he is White, Black, Asian or Hispanic, Barriss did not answer the question.  He was asked twice, and failed to answer twice.  Evidently, he did not know the race of his target victim who he was impersonating.

Barriss said that he had a handgun but when asked what kind of handgun, he said he didn’t know because it was his dad’s.

Barriss could not tell the dispatcher if his house faced north, south, east or west.

This did not raise red flags for the dispatcher and it begs to question when should a dispatcher not take a caller seriously?  Their job is to take callers seriously and get all the information they can to protect others.  In this case, hostages needed protecting.

The police arrived expecting to confront an armed man who had just shot his dad in the head, who was holding his mom and little brother hostage, and who poured gasoline throughout the house and was thinking about lighting it.

Andrew Finch

When Andrew Finch heard noises outside the house and opened the front door to see what it was, he was met with lights and police shouting instructions.  One officer shot Andrew, killing him.

It was reported that the perpetrator went on Twitter with the following;

“I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION.”

And now there are people, including the media, asking who is to blame for Andrew’s death.

Because states legislate their own laws, some states have laws that others do not.  Illinois has a felony murder law; (720 ILCS 5/9-1), that states in pertinent part:

A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits first degree murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death, he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder.”

On December 7, 2013, I posted about two different cases where people who did not pull the trigger were charged with murder.

In October 2011, three men and a teen, who was also the brother of one of the men, walked into a pizzeria.  One man showed a gun and attempted to rob the business.  Frank Pobjecky, an off duty Sheriff’s deputy, was in the pizzeria.  He retrieved a gun from behind the counter and shot all three men, wounding them.  Video shows that 16-year old Michael Sago, Jr. was crawling on the floor trying to get to the door, when Pobjecky aimed and shot Michael 3 times in the back.  Michael’s brother, Brandon, was charged with felony murder, although he did not have a gun.   All three men were charged.  One pleaded guilty.  Brandon and the man with the gun were convicted and sentenced to 40 years in state prison.  Deputy Pobjecky was not charged.

In summary, while committing a crime, if a person is killed, the person or persons committing the crime can be charged with felony murder. It’s not that simple however, the perpetrators must be committing a felony crime.

Here’s another reason why this incident is interesting. Barriss resides in California.  In at least one county in California, I was told that crimes committed over phone, email or the internet from California, actually take place in the jurisdiction where the victim resides.  Barriss is alleged to have made the call out of California, but it was to harm a person in Wichita, Kansas.

Kansas has already alerted California of its plan to extradite Barriss.

Does the State of Kansas have felony murder law?  I had to research first before writing this as fact; Kansas has a law, KSA 21-3401, for felony murder.

Kansas holds two basic approaches to the application of the felony-murder doctrine; agency and proximate cause theories. The proximate cause application holds that a felon may be held responsible under the felony murder rule for a killing committed by a non-felon if the felon set in motion the acts which resulted in the victim’s death.

Taking all of this into consideration, the only question for me, at this moment, is whether Barriss was committing a felony when he called-in the fraudulent report? In Kansas, falsely reporting that a crime has been committed or suspected, knowing that such information is false and intending that the officer or agency act in reliance of the reported information, can be a misdemeanor or a felony.  The way the statute is written is confusing because it appears there are missing sub-sections on the website.

To charge Barriss with felony murder, the State first has to find that he was committing a felony by making the false report.  They might not be able to do that with obstruction of justice as a misdemeanor, but can with identity theft.  In Kansas, using an address to impersonate another is identity theft, a level 8 felony.

Andrew’s mom has expressed that she wants to see the officer charged with killing Andrew. That brings up an issue reported and discussed on this blog numerous times; i.e., should law enforcement officers have discretion to shoot to kill based on their thinking that a suspect is armed?  Juries simply do not find officers guilty of murder when abusing their discretion.

In this case, the police arrived based on the swatter’s false report.   The swatter’s false report was deliberately designed for law enforcement officers to shoot to kill.  The swatter is the proximate cause for Andrew’s death.

By the way, this is not Barriss’ first brush with the law regarding false reports.  He’s been arrested previously for making false bomb reports.

My heart goes out to Andrew’s mom, children and family.  As Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin has stated, no mother wants to be part of a club borne of tragedy and heartbreak.

 

 

Posted on 01/03/2018, in Cases, Cyber Abuse and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. chuquestaquenumber1

    This was bound to happen.In January 2015 Oklahoma Police Chief Louis Ross was a victim of swatting. Someone decided to call 911 about a dangerous situation. Oklahoma police led by Chief Louis Ross kicked down the front door of Dallas Horton.Dallas Horton fired 4 shots. All 4 hit Chief Ross. 3 in his chest which was protected by body armor one hit him in the arm. The homeowner wasn’t charged with any crimes . Dallas’ actions were determined to be self defense. Now how could a civilian shoot a cop who was answering a call ? Chief Ross was Black. The civilian Dallas Horton was white. That’s how.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Chuquest,
      There is also another case where the victim was shot with rubber bullets. There is another case where the victim was caused physical harm by police officers, but the police were cleared on the basis that they were performing according to the report they received. That “spat” started on BattleCam. Because of the swatter’s false report, Steven Rusinowski, a college student and legal gun owner, ended up in a mental hospital, taken there by the police. He was upset, doped up by the staff, and without thinking, signed papers for admission. He was discharged from school and his license to own guns was revoked. The swatter was ordered to pay Steven $50k.

      In the case where Chief Ross was shot, it sprung back on the call being a hoax, so the homeowner had no idea that police were coming to his house. Yeah, Horton most likely saw skin color and assumed it was a burglar. Likewise, Andrew had no idea why the police were in front of the house. His life was taken without knowing anything; without knowing why.

      People who think it’s funny to start online harassment and move it into the personal lives of those they disagree with should learn restraint and find something good to do with their time. The intent to deliberately use others as an agency to hurt people is evil.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Barriss was in court this morning. He said he will not fight extradition. Authorities in Kansas have until Feb. 2nd to pick him up. He is being held without bail.

    The Kansas fugitive warrant for Barriss charges him with making a false alarm. It’s a low level felony in Kansas that carries a maximum sentence of 34 months in prison. Other charges can be filled after Wichita prosecutors review the results of a police investigation.

    Time.com reports this.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Xena,

    Thanks for educating me. I will be telling others about this swatting and doxing. My opinion is, if either tactic gets used which then causes the death of the party that was the victim, that the perpetrator should be charged with a felony. The harm is foreseeable.

    What a tragedy for Andrew Finch and his family.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 3 people

    • Gronda,
      EXACTLY — the harm was intended. You know, there have been cases of online harassment where the victims committed suicide. Some states prosecute such cases as murder or manslaughter and other states do not. So, we need a federal law in that regards also.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Barriss was still on phone with 911 after the police arrived and Andrew was shot dead.

    http://www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article192846389.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      And, I see by reading that article that reporters then had the same questions that I now have.

      Also, that article says that the caller used a local area code (I cannot understand how he managed to do that from California) :

      6:10: The downtown security officer at City Hall receives the first of several calls from a local area code with a man saying that his father had been hit over the head with a handgun. The officer attempts to transfer the calls to 911 over the next few minutes.

      6:18: 911 Dispatch receives the transfer from the downtown security officer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yahtzee,
        When you went to the article, did the CNN video about the case pop-up where the newscaster said he had not heard of swatting? I talked back to the video asking if he’s heard of spoofing?

        Regarding the area code, I think I know what he used to get that, but I won’t say it publicly because I don’t want to give evil people any ideas.

        Liked by 2 people

        • yahtzeebutterfly

          No, that article was from the Wichita Eagle, with no CNN video that I could find.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yahtzee,
            Sorry. I read several news sources before posting the comment and thought I had posted another link where the video is available.

            More news! Barriss was under the investigation of the Los Angeles Police Dept. BEFORE he made the fake call. They were preparing to meet with federal prosecutors.

            “LAPD detectives were planning to meet soon with federal prosecutors to discuss their investigation into whether Tyler Raj Barriss was responsible for several so-called “swatting” calls and similar hoaxes that drew large police responses in the past year, said Deputy Chief Horace Frank, who oversees the LAPD’s counter-terrorism and special operations bureau. He declined to identify the incidents.”

            http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-barriss-swatting-suspect-20180104-story.html

            Like

            • yahtzeebutterfly

              So sad that law enforcement almost “caught up” with Barriss and maybe could have arrested him, but it was not in time to save Andrew Finch from fatally becoming Barriss’ targeted victims.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Yahtzee,
              Yes, it is sad. They put a lot of time into investigating and local police forces having to coordinate with the feds also take time. Meanwhile, while they are putting evidence together, the perpetrators think that they have total freedom to continue their illegal course of conduct. They progress.

              Andrew’s death is not in vain. It has brought attention to the issues and Barriss might become the poster boy that serves as an example for others like him.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. There has to be accountability when ‘mistakes’ are made even by our LEO’s. John Crawford comes to mind. Police rushed killing John within seconds, having believed the caller’s story of ‘he’s walking around loading a gun’ without even evaluating the situation.

    Yes Barris should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and the officers who shot Andrew should also face consequences. If All Lives truly Matter.

    Like

    • Mindyme,
      I agree, but am afraid that our laws do not. Barriss will most likely be charged with felony murder. Andrew’s estate might be able to successfully sue the city of Wichita, but it’s unlikely that the cop will be charged. Like you convey — we’ve been here before; John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Dillon Taylor.

      Like

  6. Of course it was correct to find the man guilty of this offence. But what about the officer who shot the victim, as he appeared in his own doorway? Why shoot to kill on first sight? Living in the UK, I find the increase in shootings by police in your country to be alarming. It appears that the quality of some officers is questionable, as is their training too. Whatever the reason for attending an incident, it is unacceptable to just immediately kill people because of what they might have done, or based on allegations received in phone calls.
    I am reminded of the lady who was shot dead in Minneapolis last year, after calling police to report a disturbance. It seems a ‘shoot first’ policy is being adopted by many police officers in the US.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

    • Hi Pete! Welcome to my blog. Thanks for your excellent comment.

      Here in the U.S., each state can have its own laws. There are states that have laws that are argued on “if not but for the fact” and felony murder is one such law. It says that if not but for the fact that Barriss made a false police report, that the cops would not have shown up to Finch’s house and shot him dead. Then we have states such as Ohio where a false report resulted in the shooting death of John Campbell III, and no one was held accountable.

      In Wichita, an investigation is still ongoing about the officer’s actions, but my guess is that he is most likely to defend by saying he was prepared to take action based on the information given to 911.

      Sadly, Andrew is not alive to testify what he was thinking and doing, but I highly suspect that he did not know the police were talking to him and he was turning around to go back inside his house when he was shot.

      It’s a sad situation in the U.S. because cops are trained to take out the “threat” and they are given discretion to use deadly force based on their perception of the threat.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Swatting Prank Ends In Death – The Militant Negro™

Join the discussion

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: