Imagine this …
Two guys are playing an online computer game. They get angry with each other. One guy threatens to have the other swatted, that is, he will make a false report to the police so they will show up ready to kill. The other guy dares him to and gives him a fake address.
The guy who threatened the swatting contacts another guy in California who is ruthless, has a history of making false police reports and bomb threats, and takes pride in doing it. The swatter who is in California, makes a false police report to Wichita, Kansas.
It ends with an innocent 28-year old father being killed. His children no longer have a father.
Now, don’t imagine it. It is true.
Tyler Barris was the swatter. On December 28, 2017, he made a false police report that he was in the house of the address of Andrew Finch in Wichita, Kansas. Only, Barris didn’t know Finch and thought he was giving the address for Shane Gaskill, the intended S.W.A.T. target. Barris told dispatch that he had shot his father in the head and was holding his mom and little brother hostage. He also claimed to have poured gasoline around the house and was threatening to set it on fire.
The police showed up at Andrew’s house and hearing noise outside, he went out on the porch to check it out. Police yelled, “Show your hands.” Andrew was shot dead by one officer. Watching the video, and seeing where the cops were positioned, it’s my impression that Andrew did not know those instructions were directed at him. He turned to go back inside the house and was shot by an officer who said that he thought Andrew was going into his waistband for a gun. Andrew was unarmed.
Barris was still on the phone with police dispatch when Andrew was shot.
Barris was extradited to Kansas and charged with involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm, and interference with law-enforcement officers. While in jail in Kansas, Barris found a glitch in the prison’s computer system that inmates are allowed to use, and he posted threats of continued swatting from the jail.
Tyler Barris was the activator. Casey Viner was the initiator, and Shane Gaskill was the target who gave a false address to Viner. Now they have been indicted on federal charges.
According to a federal indictment, 18-year-old Casey Viner and 19-year-old Shane Gaskill are charged with wire fraud and obstruction of justice. Viner also faces an additional charge of conspiracy to make false / hoax reports. The indictment alleges that when the defendants realized what had happened, they purged the electronic messages they had sent to each other in effort to conceal their involvement. Viner wiped and factory reset his iPhone.
The DOJ’s press release says;
The following men are charged:
Tyler Barriss, 25, Los Angeles, Calif., making false/hoax reports to emergency services (count 1), cyberstalking (count 2), making interstate threats (count 3), making interstate threats to harm by fire (count 4), wire fraud (counts 5 through 11) and conspiracy to make false/hoax reports (count 12).
Casey Viner, 18, North College Hill, Ohio, wire fraud (counts 5 through 11), conspiracy to make false/hoax reports (count 12), obstruction of justice (count 13), and conspiracy to obstruct justice (count 16).
Shane Gaskill, 19, Wichita, Kan., obstruction of justice (count 13, 14 and 15), conspiracy to obstruct justice (count 16), and wire fraud (count 17).
If convicted, the defendants face the following penalties:
Making a false/hoax report to emergency services resulting in death of another: Up to life in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Cyberstalking resulting in death of another: Up to life and a fine up to $250,000.
Threatening to kill a person or damage property by fire: Up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Making a threat in interstate communications: Up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Wire fraud: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Conspiracy to make a false report: Up to five years and a fine up to $250,000.
Obstruction of justice: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Conspiracy to obstruct justice: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
In yet another indictment, a federal grand jury returned a true bill, charging Barris with two counts of making false bomb threats. The threat caused an evacuation of a high-profile Federal Communications Commission hearing. Barris made another false bomb report 8 days later that targeted the FBI headquarters.
Barris was apparently out of control and believed that the methods he used were not discoverable by law enforcement. He was under federal observation when he made the fatal swat call in December 2017.
All three of the young men involved had no concern, and maybe no knowledge, of the many cases of law enforcement acting on the information given to them, ending in the taking of innocent lives. It’s not funny. All types of cyber abuse harms more than the targeted victim. When perpetrators involve others, it can end up like in this case where three men are facing long prison sentences.
In the following video, a LA Officer explains swatting and testifies of having previous contact with Tyler Barris in a 2015 case.
The indictment explains who did what, and the alleged violations.