Last year, shortly after the holidays, a fatal swatting incident took place in Wichita, Kansas. Swatting is essentially a “prank” in which a person calls the authorities and sends them, with false claims, to the residence of someone in the middle of a stream. Obviously, this is an incredibly serious matter that places both innocent civilians and officers in very real danger. Police are entering what they have to assume is a hostile situation. This is not a new trend. In fact, there are whole compilations of swatting incidents happening. On December 28, 2017, Andrew Finch, 28, was fatally shot by police, responding to a false call. This tragically makes Andrew the first (human) fatality to result from one of these incidents. And the worst fact of the matter is that Finch was completely unrelated to the events leading up to the moment that ended his life.
On December 30, Tyler Barris was apprehended for his role in the incident. And as of January 3, he’s being charged with Felony false alarm. This doesn’t account for all involved parties, however, as there were two others. Barris, who went by the Call of Duty Tag, “SWAuTistic,” was the one who made the call to Wichita authorities. However, he was actually only involved in that he, a known Swatter, and repeat offender, was hired to commit the act by an outside party – an as of yet unidentified person going by the CoD Tag “Baperizer.”
This person had gotten into an argument with player “M1ruhcle” over a CoD match with $1.50 wagered on the outcome. But when M1ruhcle dared Baperizer to SWAT him, the former provided a false address with all the tone of a “Come at me, bro!” rant. An address belonged to Andrew Finch. That’s the short version, but the full details are easy enough to find.
As a result of the actions taken by these three, an innocent man is dead. Barris faces felony charges for his actions. However, the other two parties have yet to be identified or detained. None of the three are blameless. And while the need for consequences to befall all three is pretty much unanimously agreed upon, there has been debate over the extent to which they should be punished. Others have also taken this as another instance of abuse of police power.
Though there’s likewise the argument of more police readiness training having been necessary, as it was reported Barris was still on the line with dispatch when Finch answered the door to find the police on his lawn. Thus one could submit that the officers should have known the call was false, as a result. There are many things wrong about this story. And they all merge into a malignant cocktail that ended a man’s life.
Swatting is a heinous act that sets back the reputation of the gaming community by lightyears, for certain. But before that, it’s simply a horrible thing to do as a person, placing other lives in extreme danger. Because of this, one officer has to deal with having killed an innocent man and a family mourns the loss of a loved one. This is an awful situation that won’t be easy to heal from, but will at least be made to sting slightly less as one of the three involved parties is being brought to justice for their role in things. And, hopefully, the remaining two will see repercussions for their involvement, as well.
Swatting needs to stop. Ideally, this event will spark some change that makes it a less common occurrence. With any luck, the consequences, alone, will be enough to steer others from repeating these actions. And perhaps more safeguards will be set in place on the part of the police to prevent it from being so easy to accomplish. But only time will tell, as this story continues to develop.