Tyler R. Barriss, the Twitter-famous swatter behind the false call that led to the death of Andrew Finch, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for 51 federal charges related to false calls and threats. Barriss had often used the method before and was even known among certain gaming communities as the go-to guy for revenge swatting.
Swatting is the act of falsely reporting a crime at someone's home address with the goal of getting a SWAT team to invade their house.
According to authorities, a Call of Duty: WWII player in Ohio hired Barriss to swat another gamer in Wichita over a $1.50 bet. The Ohio gamer, Casey Viner, gave Barriss what he believed to be the home address of the Wichita gamer, Shane Gaskill. However, Gaskill no longer lived at that address.
Instead, when the SWAT team arrived the door was opened by Andrew Finch, who was fatally shot when an officer thought he was reaching for a gun in his waistband. Finch was unarmed and not involved in the COD bet.
Viner and Gaskill have both been charged as co-conspirators in Finch's death. When Gaskill noticed Barriss following his account, Gaskill gave Barriss the same old address and taunted the swatter to "try something."
Barriss has pleaded guilty in the death of Finch, as well as to other charges of false calls and threats related to previous swattings. Charges had also been filed against Barriss in California and the District of Columbia, but they were consolidated with the federal case. He formally apologized to Finch's family on Friday.
Viner and Gaskill have both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud, and several other counts. Both have entered plea talks with federal authorities, so those pleas might change in the future.
Barriss' sentence is the longest on record for the practice of swatting. Current sentencing guidelines would recommend 10 years for the swatter's charges, but the judge was of the opinion that the law had not caught up with current cultural climate and technology. According to U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren, the case went into "uncharted legal territory" and the charges didn't properly address the situation and the severity of the consequences.