Police arrested a Los Angeles man on Friday after he made a revenge prank call — a “swatting” — to police in Kansas about a potential hostage incident that resulted in the police killing an innocent man.
Tyler Barriss, 25, was arrested in South Los Angeles on Dec. 29 on suspicion of making a hoax 911 call to Wichita, Kansa to claim that Andrew Finch, 28, had a family argument that resulted in the shooting death of Finch’s father. The call also claimed that Finch was holding his brother, sister, and mother hostage; that he had poured gasoline around the home; and that he intended to light the home on fire in a murder-suicide.
Wichita Police responded to the swatting call with a major incident force to cordon off the neighborhood and prepare for an armed standoff with “barricaded suspect or suspects inside,” according to the Wichita Police spokesman.
Police stated that when Finch saw the lights flashing outside his house, he opened his front door. Police instructed him to turn around, put his hands up, and slowly back out. Finch supposedly complied for a short time, but then let his hands drift down to his waist. He then complied again when police demanded he put his hands back up and continuing moving backward, but he let his hands drop again.
Finch is alleged to have then turned toward officers and quickly dropped his hands to his waist, before raising one arm and pointing at officers. One officer fired and at least one bullet hit Finch, who died at the scene.
Finch’s distraught mother, Lisa Finch, told the local ABC News affiliate: “I heard my son scream, I got up, and then I heard a shot.” Police handcuffed the mother, a roommate, and a granddaughter, and then transported them to jail for questioning.
The Twitter account of “SWAuTistic” took credit for the swatting, but then denied responsibility by writing: “I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION.”
After Twitter suspended Barriss’s account, he went onto YouTube’s “Drama Alert” to explain that SWAuTistic was “minding my own business” when he was contacted by an angry Call of Duty player that wanted another player “swatted.” SWAuTistic bragged, “Sure, I love swatting kids who think that nothing’s going to happen.”
The Krebs on Security blog contacted the SWAuTistic account. Barriss claimed that “he’s been the victim of swatting attempts himself, and that this was the reason he decided to start swatting others.” SWAuTistic added: “Bomb threats are more fun and cooler than swats in my opinion and I should have just stuck to that.” SWAuTistic claimed that he was behind the bomb threat that disrupted the FCC net neutrality vote earlier in the month.
NBC News reported that following up on Wichita Police leads, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Tyler Barriss on a fugitive warrant on Dec. 29. NBC News reported that unnamed local sources had claimed Barriss “had been living at a transitional recovery center.”