[UPDATE] Police Have Arrested A Suspect In Call Of Duty-Related Swatting Incident
Update (10/30/2017): Los Angeles police arrested 25-year-old Tyler Barriss Friday afternoon on a fugitive warrant in connection to a swatting incident that lead to the death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in Wichita, Kansas following an online Call of Duty-related dispute.
According to NBC News, Barriss allegedly called Wichita police and made the false report. Barriss falsely gave police Finch's address as the location of a shooting after one of the parties in the online dispute, a Call of Duty player who goes by the name "Miruhcle," gave Barriss the address under the guise that it was where Miruhcle lived. Finch was not involved with the dispute (the details of which you can in our original story) in any way.
Barriss is currently in police custody in South Los Angeles.
Original Story: Police in Wichita, Kansas shot and killed a man after what a Call of Duty community is claiming is the result of a disagreement over a Call of Duty match.
A report from The Wichita Eagle stated that police were called to the victim's home on December 28 following a phone call that reported a homicide and hostage situation at the residence. When a man opened the door, one of the officers fired on him. The man, who wasn't identified by police, was pronounced dead at the hospital. His family has identified the victim as Andrew Finch.
In an interview with local news, the Wichita police department chief Troy Livingston confirmed that they are investigating whether the incident is the result of a fake phone call was part of a Swatting prank. Swatting is when a perpetrator phones in false information designed to get police and crisis units to a home under the presumption that lives are in danger, causing them to be on heightened alert and more aggressive at the target address. It has in the past gotten property destroyed, pets killed, and now people, as well.
The strangest part, however, is that it's possible the victim had nothing to do with the argument in the first place.
In the hours following the news of the shooting, users on Twitter pointed to a UMG Gaming Call of Duty match as the genesis of the incident, a wager-based match of Search & Destroy. Two teammates who go by the handles "Miruhcle" and "Baperizer" got into an argument following a loss over public Twitter posts and private direct messages with each other. Baperizer brought in a third party, a user who calls themselves "Swautistic," to threaten a Swatting against Miruhcle.
For whatever reason, Miruhcle upped the ante by taunting Baperizer and Swautistic by providing them with an address in Wichita, implying that the address was his. When police arrived, Andrew Finch was shot dead in his own home despite there being no evidence he even knew any of the people involved with the argument. The mother of the victim, Lisa Finch, told the Witchita Eagle that her son is not a gamer, a claim echoed up by the rest of the victim's family.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Call of Duty community has come out with numerous screencaps of and charges against Swautistic, who many people claim has a long history of sending SWAT teams as a prank. The twitter account for professional CoD player Tommy "ZooMa" Paparatto posted screencaps of Swautistic threatening Paparatto and his girlfriend. Paparatto also suggested Swautistic was behind the bomb threats that forced evacuations at CWL Dallas earlier this month, a claim many in the Call of Duty community reiterated since last night's incident.
In a now-deleted tweet, Swautistic claimed no responsibility for the attacks, stating “I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING ASWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION [sic].”
The officer who fired the shot has been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is being investigated. We have reached out to the Wichita police department for comment and will update the story as it changes.
I hated writing this story because I hate that this can happen. I hate that people have this power to ruin someone's life or even outright take it. It is too easy to say "This was one person that was disturbed" or "This doesn't reflect us as a gaming community," but at some point that just looks like denial. The culture that lead to things like this being okay, that lead to not one but two people thinking this was a valid avenue to escalate an argument, and a third person hiding behind anonymity to put someone else in the line of fire, none of it should be okay with the gaming community as a whole. When a prank has a body count, it is time to look at how such a thing ended up being considered a prank at all.