Kansas lawmakers consider tougher penalties for “swatting” crimes


TOPEKA (CAPITOL BUREAU) — After a deadly swatting phone call led to the death of an innocent man, lawmakers are looking to prevent it from happening again.

Almost two months later, Lisa Finch is still reeling from the death of her 28-year-old son Andrew Finch.

“It has effected my entire family to a level that no one should have to reach,” Finch said.

In December, Wichita police shot and killed the unarmed man. Police said they received a fake report about a shooting and kidnapping at the home where Finch was staying.

“My son was shot and killed because of a swatting call,” explained Finch.

At a committee hearing in Topeka, Finch not only asked lawmakers to support House bill 2581, but to name it after her son.

“I support this bill whole hearty,” she said. “I want to believe it came about because of what happened to my son, all the more reason to name it after my son.”

According to current state law, a person who makes a swatting call, that doesn’t result in death, only faces a misdemeanor or low-level felony charge. Under the bill, people who make swatting calls that result in injury or death face a high-level felony charge.

“This is about preventing horrible incidents like these and holding individuals accountable,” explained Wichita Representative John Whitmer.

A handful of people testified in support of the legislation including representatives for law enforcement groups.

“We want to hold people accountable that make that call, we still have to be accountable for what we do as well,” said Ed Klumpp who represents several law enforcement agencies.

There was no one at the hearing who opposed the bill.

Finch says while the bill is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t bring back her son.

“To my knowledge this is the first swatting call that ended in death.”

No action was taken on the bill in committee.

Tyler Barriss, the man who made the swatting call in Finch’s cases has been charged with making a false alarm, interfering with police, and involuntary manslaughter.

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