Three men were charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday in connection with the fake emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of a Wichita man last December.
Tyler Barriss, 25, is accused of making the fake emergency call — often referred to as swatting — on Dec. 28. He is charged with making a hoax report to emergency services, cyberstalking, wire fraud and conspiracy.
According to the indictment, Barriss was contacted by Casey Viner, the second defendant and an 18-year-old gamer from Ohio, on Dec. 28. Viner wanted Barriss to swat another gamer he was in an online dispute with regarding a video game. Viner is charged with wire fraud, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
Viner and Barriss’ intended target was Shane Gaskill, a 19-year-old gamer in Wichita, the indictment said. Gaskill messaged Barriss on Twitter when he saw Barriss was following him. That’s when Gaskill provided Barriss with an old address. Gaskill is charged with obstruction of justice, wire fraud and conspiracy.
Barriss, who was living in Los Angeles, swatted the address provided by Gaskill, the indictment said. He told police that he was in the home, had shot his father and was holding his mother and a sibling hostage. At least 15 Wichita police officers surrounded the home on McCormick Street.
Andrew Finch came outside and was shot by officer Justin Rapp when the officer thought Finch was drawing a gun. Finch, who was unarmed, was not involved in the online dispute.
Barriss is also being charged at the state level. He was bound over for trial on Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court on several charges, including involuntary manslaughter.
Gaskill learned about the shooting from news reports later on the night of the incident. According to transcripts in the indictment, he messaged Barriss and told him to “delete everything,” likely refering to the messages. Gaskill told Barriss that Viner had done so.
U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news conference announcing the indictment that these types of calls aren’t a joke.
“It’s a federal crime, and it put people’s lives at risk,” McAllister said. “Moreover, such behavior is simply irresponsible and immoral."
Barriss faces up to life in federal prison for the fake emergency call, while the other defendants face lesser punishments if convicted.
Stephan Bisaha reports on education for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on @SteveBisaha. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.