Two more men have been charged over a swatting incident last year that led to the fatal shooting of a Kansas man. The death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in Kansas is believed to be the first confirmed death related to swatting. Swatting is the practice of calling in a SWAT team to a house by fraudulently reporting a serious crime like a murder or hostage situation at that address, which usually results in an aggressive response from law enforcement authorities. According to a federal indictment that was unsealed earlier this week, 18-year-old Casey Viner and 19-year-old Shane Gaskill have also been charged over the incident.
Another man, Tyler Barris, 25, has already been charged at the state level with felony involuntary manslaughter and two additional counts. The hoax calls were made to Wichita police on December 28th, 2017.
Viner and Gaskill face federal charges of wire fraud and obstruction of justice. Viner also faces an additional charge of conspiracy to make false / hoax reports. Barris faces additional federal charges, including making false / hoax reports to emergency services, cyberstalking, making interstate threats, making interstate threats to harm by fire, and wire fraud.
The indictment alleges that Viner in Ohio and Gaskill in Wichita, Kansas, were playing Call of Duty online as a team when they got into an argument. Viner then asked Barriss to “swat” Gaskill, but the address he gave was an old one where Gaskill no longer lived. Barriss disguised his number and made a series of calls to Wichita police and 911 emergency. In these calls, he claimed he had shot and killed his father and was holding his mother and little brother hostage. Wichita police then responded to the situation whereby Finch was fatally shot. The indictment alleges that after Finch was shot, the defendants realized what had happened and purged the messages sent to each other. If the three men are convicted, they face penalties of up to $250,000 per charge and between five years to life in jail.
Earlier this week, prosecutors indicted Barris for another incident where he allegedly called in a bomb threat during the FCC’s net neutrality vote in December.