Federal charges brought against three men involved in deadly Kansas swatting

Federal charges have been brought against Tyler Barriss, the man who instigated a swatting that led to the killing of a man in late 2017 in Wichita, Kansas. The charges, including making false reports to emergency services, cyberstalking, making interstate threats, and wire fraud, come on top of state-level charges that were filed shortly after the incident. 

Interestingly, federal charges were also brought against the two Call of Duty players who initiated the hoax, Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill. Viner asked Barriss, a known swatter under the name Swautistic, to swat Gaskill over a dispute arising from a Call of Duty match; Gaskill repeatedly and knowingly provided an old address to Barriss, which Barriss used when he called in a false report claiming that someone in the house had murdered one of his parents and was holding the rest of the family hostage.   

That false report led police to shoot and kill 28-year-old Andrew Finch, who was not involved in the dispute and unarmed when he stepped out onto the front porch of his home after police arrived. When Viner and Gaskill became aware of the entirely predictable consequences of their thunderingly stupid and reckless behavior, they conspired to delete evidence of their interactions in order to avoid prosecution. 

Because of those actions, Viner now faces charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to make false reports, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice, while Gaskill has been charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and wire fraud. The charges are serious: Making a false report resulting in the death of a person, or cyberstalking resulting in death, carry penalties of up to life in prison and a fine of $250,000. They had not previously been charged in relation to the incident. 

As reported by Variety last month, the police officer who actually killed Finch was not charged in the incident. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett determined that the officer in question believed that Finch had drawn a gun from his waistband, and that his life and the lives of his fellow officers were in danger.   

In March, Kansas passed an "anti-swatting" bill named after Andrew Finch that would make swatting that results in death or extreme injury punishable by up to 41 years in prison. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.