Alleged prank 'swatting' call turns deadly with fatal police shooting of man in Kansas

A California man was arrested for the alleged prank 911 call.

ByABC News
December 30, 2017, 3:26 PM

— -- A 25-year-old man in California has been arrested over an alleged hoax 911 call that led to police killing an unarmed man in Kansas on Thursday night, authorities said.

Tyler Barriss from South Los Angeles was arrested on a fugitive warrant Friday afternoon for allegedly making the so-called "swatting" call, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Wichita Police Department in Kansas is working with the Los Angeles Police Department as well as the FBI on this case. Among the lines of inquiry investigators are pursuing is whether the 911 call was connected to an online-gaming dispute, police said.

Barriss is the same man who allegedly called in a bomb threat to ABC station KABC in 2015, which led to an evacuation of the Los Angeles television station, according to the Glendale Police Department in Los Angeles County. Barriss received a two-year sentence, court records show.

"Barris served time after being charged by state authorities in Los Angeles for making threats and was released earlier this year," the FBI said in a statement, but did not directly link the sentence to the KABC bomb threat.

Thursday's incident began around 6:18 p.m. Central Time when police received a 911 call about an alleged shooting with hostages at a residence in Wichita, Kansas. The caller told authorities he had shot his father in the head while his parents were arguing, police said. The caller also said he was holding his other family members at gunpoint inside the home and was thinking about setting the house on fire, police said.

The Wichita Police Department released audio of the phone call between the individual and the 911 dispatcher.

"They were arguing and I shot him in the head and he's not breathing anymore," the caller says.

"I'm just pointing the gun at them, making sure they stay in the closet, my mom and my little brother," he says. "I already poured gasoline all over the house. I might just set it on fire."

The caller repeatedly gave authorities his alleged home address, leading Wichita police officers to the house.

Upon arriving at the scene, officers surrounded the front of the house, preparing to make contact with the caller inside and for the potential situation of a suspect barricaded with hostages, police said.

A 28-year-old man opened the door of the home and was told to raise his hands and walk toward the officers -- a command he obeyed for "a very short time" until he moved his hands back down to his waist, police said.

The officers ordered him again to put his hands up but the man lowered them down again, police said. As the man turned toward officers on the east side of the home, he lowered his hands to his waistband and suddenly pulled them up to the officers, police said. That's when an officer on the north side of the home fired one round, striking the man.

"He feared the male just pulled a weapon from his waistband, retrieved a gun and was in the process of pointing it at the officers to the east," Deputy Chief Troy Livingston of the Wichita Police Department said at a press conference Friday.

Officers then entered the home and found four individuals inside alive and unharmed, police said.

The man who was shot was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead Thursday night. Police didn't find any weapons on him and officers learned he did not make the 911 call, according to Livingston.

No one else was injured during the incident, police said.

Police have not yet released the identity of the man killed in the incident. But Wichita resident Lisa Finch identified him as her son, Andrew Finch, in an interview with reporters Friday morning. Lisa Finch said that her son was a father of two young children, according to The Wichita Eagle.

“I heard my son scream, I got up and then I heard a shot,” Lisa Finch said in the interview with reporters.

“The police said, ‘Come out with your hands up,’” she added. “[The officer] took me, my roommate and my granddaughter, who witnessed the shooting and had to step over her dying uncle’s body.”

Lisa Finch told reporters that she and her family were handcuffed, taken outside and placed into separate police cruisers. They were then transported downtown and interviewed by Wichita police officers.

“We want Andy’s side of the story to be told,” his mother said.

Livingston, the deputy police chief, said investigators believe the prank call was a case of "swatting," in which a 911 caller intends to deceive law enforcement about an alleged serious emergency. According to The Associated Press, the FBI has estimated that roughly 400 cases of swatting occur nationwide every year

"Last evening’s officer-involved shooting is a tragic and senseless act," Livingston said at the press conference Friday. "The irresponsible actions of a prankster put people and lives at risk. The incident is a nightmare for everyone involved including the family and our police department."

The officer who fired the shot has been placed on administrative leave, which Livingston said is standard protocol. Livingston did not name that officer but said he's a 7-year veteran of the department.

“Due to the actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim," Livingston said. "If the false police call had not been made, we would not have been there. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as well as with the officer.”

In addition to the 911 call audio, police also released seven seconds of grainy footage from a body-camera worn by an officer standing next to the officer who fired the shot.