Kansas swatter pleads guilty, faces minimum 20 years in prison

Image source:  Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via AP  

Tyler Barriss, whose 'swatting' hoax last year resulted in police killing a Kansas man, has pleaded guilty to a total of 51 charges including making a false report resulting in death, cyberstalking, and conspiracy. The plea agreement covers the case in Kansas as well as similar charges filed in California and the District of Columbia, according to a KTLA report, and will see him serve a minimum of 20 years in prison. 

Barriss admitted in his plea that he was asked by 18-year-old Casey Viner of Ohio to "swat" Shane Gaskill, 20, of Kansas, after the two became embroiled in a dispute over a $1.50 wager on a Call of Duty match. Gaskill found out that Barriss was pursuing him and sent messages daring him to carry out the swat, but provided an old address that actually belonged to the family of Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old who had no connection to the matter. After Barriss made the false report, police surrounded the house and called Gaskill out; when Finch emerged, they shot and killed him after he "unexpectedly dropped his hands." 

"Without ever stepping foot in Wichita, the defendant created a chaotic situation that quickly turned from dangerous to deadly," U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement released following the guilty plea. "His reasons were trivial and his disregard for the safety of other people was staggering."

Barriss also pleaded guilty to charges of making a bomb threat against the headquarters of the FBI and the FCC in Washington DC, and to 46 counts of false reports made to emergency numbers in multiple states and the Canadian province of Alberta from calls originating in Los Angeles.

The plea deal still has to be accepted by a judge: Sentencing is set to take place on January 30. Viner and Gaskill are awaiting trial on charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to make false reports, and obstruction of justice. The police officer who killed Finch was not charged.