On January 3, 2018, I predicted that if Kansas has felony murder law, that Tyler Barriss would be charged for the death of Andrew Finch.
I’ve been following and posting about this case. It is another demonstration for how cyber abuse crosses the line of the internet into the personal and private lives of victims, causing harm emotionally, physically and in this case, resulting in death.
Tyler Barriss made a call reporting that he killed his father, was holding his mom and little brother hostage, had poured gasoline throughout the house and was planning to set it on fire. He gave 911 dispatch an address. It was not his address. Barriss was making a swatting call. Andrew Finch, the man at the address, heard noise outside the house and opened his front door. He was shot dead by a Wichita police officer.
Barriss, who is 25-years old, was still on the phone with dispatch after Andrew was shot. Andrew was unarmed and uninvolved in the events leading to Barriss’ false police report. Andrew was 28-years old and the father of two children.
Barriss has a history of making false bomb threats and swatting calls. He was arrested in Los Angeles, CA shortly after his swatting call that resulted in Andrew’s death.
The state of Kansas extradited Barriss. He has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reporting a false alarm, and interference with a law enforcement officer. His bond is set at half a million dollars.
In Kansas, involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence of 31 to 136 months, depending on a defendant’s criminal history.
This is not the only case facing Barriss. Police in Calgary, Canada have issued warrants for Barriss for public mischief, fraud, and mischief. They say that on December 22, 2017, they received a call from a man who claimed he had shot his father and was holding his mother and younger brother hostage. Police surrounded an address and began evacuating nearby homes.
While officers were on the scene, 911 received another call from a woman at the residence who believed she was the victim of swatting. She exited, spoke to police and they confirmed there was no incident at the location.
Speaking to KWCH-TV from the Kansas jailhouse where he is being held, Barris said: “As far as serving any amount of time, I’ll just take responsibility and serve whatever time, or whatever it is that they throw at me. I’m willing to do it.”
He admitted that he had been paid to make hoax calls in the past. Barriss also told KWCH that he doesn’t consider swatting calls a “prank”. He said that someone swatted him and his grandmother, which started him on a road of doing the same.
The Daily Beast reports that Barriss went by the handle “SWauTistic” online and was an experienced swatter. On Twitter, Barriss boasted about being a “god” and “godly”. He had been arrested for a bomb threat twice and was convicted in May 2016 and sentenced to 2 years in prison. Barriss did not serve his full sentence and was released in January 2017.
The same month that he was released, Barriss was arrested again on charges of violating a restraining order. On January 27, 2017, Barriss was sentenced to a year in prison for violating that protective order, but was out of lockup on August 24, 2017. Had he served the full sentence, he would not have been free to make the swatting call that resulted in the death of Andrew Finch.
Andrew’s mother and sister have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Kansas, against the City of Wichita and 10 police officers. Attorney Andrew Stroth represents the family and told ABC News, “The swatter didn’t shoot the bullet that killed Andy Finch. Responsibility for that case resides in that officer that used his high-powered rifle to shoot and kill Andy.”