U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister held a press conference Wednesday to announce a federal indictment.
Tyler R. Barriss, 25, Shane M. Gaskill, 19, and Casey S. Viner, 18, were all charged in the federal indictment unsealed today.
The three are charged with a “swatting” case in Wichita. The unsealed indictment alleges Barriss, Gaskill and Viner were using gaming systems, phones, computers and Wi-Fi to engage in the swatting incident that led to the death of Andrew Finch.
Viner was near Cincinnati, Ohio and Gaskill was in Wichita during the time of the swatting incident.
Back on December 28, officers stormed the home of Andrew Finch after Barriss was accused of calling police to report a shooting and kidnapping. Police stormed the address and an officer fatally shot 28-year-old Andrew Finch at his front door.
The indictment also alleges the incident stemmed from an argument between Viner and Gaskill while they were teammates playing the video game, Call of Duty: WWII. Viner then recruited Barriss to “swat” Gaskill at an address in Wichita.
The address provided to Barriss was 1033 W. McCormick, the home of Andrew Finch. Viner did not konw the address Gaskill provided was an old address where he no longer lived.
Barriss was able to disguise his phone number when he called Sedgwick County Emergency Services and provided false information to emergency responders. During the phone call, Barriss falsely reported to emergency responders that he was in the home on W. McCormick and he had shot his father and was holding his mother and brother hostage at gunpoint.
He also told emergency dispatchers he had poured gasoline all over the house and he may light it on fire.
McAllister said Wichita police believed they were dealing with a shooting and hostage situation when they responded to the home on W. McCormick.
The indictment further alleges that, after Mr. Finch was shot and the defendants realized the result of the “swatting,” they talked about (in online conversations and direct messages) deleting their electronic messages and communications to protect themselves from prosecution. Viner wiped and factory reset his iPhone.
The charges in the indictment include the following:
- Making false reports to emergency responders: Up to life in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
- Cyberstalking resulting in death: Up to life in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
- Making interstate threats: Up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
- Wire fraud: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
- Obstruction of justice: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
- Conspiracy: Up to 20 years and a fine up to $250,000.
- Threatening to kill a person or damage property by fire: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
“I’d like to strett the following message to the public, falsely causing police to respond in force to the address of an innocent person or family is not a joke or a prank,” said U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister. “It’s a federal crime and it puts people’s lives at risk.”
McAllister went on to say that very serious charges are brought against Barriss, Viner and Gaskill and one of those charges carries a maximum potential penalty of life in federal prison.
Barriss, Viner and Gaskill were all over the age of 18 at the time of the offense and they are all being charged as adults.
The Finch family released the following statement after the news of the unsealed indictment: “While Tyler Barriss should be held criminally responsible, this case is about the patterns and practices of the the Wichita Police Department and the unjustified and unconstitutional shooting of Andy Finch by Officer Justin Rapp.”