Swatting – the “Prank” That Can Be Fatal
Los Angeles, California/Wichita, Kansas – “Swatting” is a prank initiated by people who call 911 with a fake report that brings a large police response to an often uninvolved address. Just such a thing occurred on Friday night at the Wichita home of Andrew Finch, 28. He was fatally shot.
“We were told that someone had an argument with their mother and dad was accidentally shot, and that now that individual was holding brother, sister and mother hostage. We learned through that call that the father was deceased…been shot in the head.” Wichita Police Department (WPD) Deputy Chief Troy Livingston to KAKE.
In the exchange with the caller, the dispatcher was told that the man had a handgun and was refusing to put it down. He said he had shot his father in the head and the victim was no longer breathing. He also claimed he had “poured gas” all over the house and “might just light it on fire.” He said that he was keeping his family members in the closet.
Hostage situation, man with a gun, major threats…police responded within two minutes of the call and arrived a 6:20 p.m. They positioned themselves around the residence in preparation for what could be a standoff situation.
Andrew Finch was unsuspecting as he appeared in the doorway. Police shouted commands to the man who had no knowledge of what was going on. He started to comply, but lowered his arms toward his waist. After he did that several times, an officer at the side of the home thought he had grabbed a weapon, so fired one round at 6:28 p.m.. Mr. Finch was pronounced dead at the hospital at 7:03 p.m. He was the father of two children, ages 2 and 7.
According to police, the call came in to a substation rather than the main 911 center, and was forwarded there. Generally that means that if a call is forwarded, the location of the original caller may be lost to the dispatcher.
All of this occurred because two “gamers” got mad at each other, according to the Wichita Eagle. Someone lost a bet and “swatted” the wrong house- he picked Finch’s address, mistakenly believing it belonged to a person he had feuded with over a $1 or $2 ‘Call of Duty’ wager. The gamer retorted on Twitter,
“I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION.” His account has been deleted, and the other gamers in the dispute told police he was the one who called police.
The Los Angeles Police Department arrested Tyler Barriss, 25, on Friday night for making the prank call. He was previously arrested in 2015 for a false report to 911 that he had “planted bombs” in a Glendale office building.
“Swatting” is one of the most deadly and stupid “games” anyone can “play.” In this case a man lost his life who was totally innocent and unarmed because police had no idea what really occurred. When police are not aware of the real incident, and adrenaline is going strong…fatalities can occur. Stop using police as the mode of “entertainment.”