Suspect in deadly ‘swatting’ call in Kansas held without bail in Los Angeles
A man arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of making a 911 call to police in Kansas as part of a deadly “swatting” prank is being held without bail pending an extradition hearing, authorities said Tuesday.
Tyler Raj Barriss, 25, was arrested in South L.A. on Friday on an arrest warrant issued by Sedgwick County, Kan., authorities. The warrant is related to a call placed to Wichita police in which the caller claimed he had killed his father and was holding his mother and sibling at gunpoint.
The hoax emergency call, which was placed Thursday evening, prompted a SWAT team to surrounded a Wichita residence and shoot an innocent man who answered the door. Wichita authorities say the man was shot when he lowered his hands toward his waistband. Family members identified the dead man as 28-year-old Andrew Finch.
Authorities say that Barriss made the call to police.
Prosecutors in Kansas are now waiting to see if the suspect will fight extradition to their state, or whether he will agree to be transported there within the next few months.
Sedgwick County Dist. Atty. Marc Bennett told The Times in an interview Tuesday that he could not release the arrest warrant or discuss potential charges against Barriss until he first appears in court in Los Angeles.
“I just like to recognize that law enforcement in California was very cooperative and thank them for their prompt response to our request,” Bennett said.
This is not the first time Barriss has been accused of making false reports of an emergency. In October 2015, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged Barriss with phoning in a bomb threat to KABC-7 in Glendale. Barriss pleaded no contest, according to court records.
The term “swatting” refers to false emergency calls that prompt police departments to deploy SWAT teams to an address. Pranksters typically claim that an armed intruder is inside the home.
The FBI estimates that roughly 400 cases of swatting occur annually, with some using caller ID “spoofing” to disguise their number. Swatting cases that result in the death of a victim are less common, however.
An FBI supervisor in the Kansas City, Mo., office, which covers all of Kansas, said the agency joined in the investigation in Wichita at the request of local police.
Gaming websites and news outlets have given heavy coverage to the deadly swatting episode.
The digital security news website Krebs On Security captured some of the tweets reportedly written by the caller under the now-suspended Twitter handle @SWAuTistic. The tweets contain the address where Finch was shot and killed. The author of the tweets also says they didn’t kill anyone because they didn’t fire a weapon.
The YouTube channel DramaAlert, which covers the gaming community, published a 10-minute interview with a man claiming to be the person who made the swatting call. The interview suggests that a dispute between two online gamers over a $1.50 wager led to the swatting call.
In the interview, the man claims that he had also called in bomb threats to the Federal Communications Commission and an events center in Dallas. He also said he did not feel entirely responsible for Finch’s death because he did not pull the trigger.
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