Los Angeles police arrested a 25-year-old man in connection with a “swatting” prank that triggered the deadly police shooting of an unarmed man in Kansas.
Tyler Barriss was taken into custody Friday afternoon in connection with the hoax 911 call that was sparked by a feud between online gamers, police told NBC News. Officials said he has a history of making those calls.
Police said Andrew Finch, 28, was killed Thursday during the law-enforcement response to the call.
"Due to the actions of a prankster, we have an innocent victim," Wichita police Deputy Chief Troy Livingston said during a press conference Friday.
The Finch family is raising money on GoFundMe to cover burial expenses.
Barriss is accused of making the swatting call after getting into a dispute with a gamer while playing Call of Duty. He gave police the address he believed to be the other gamer's, officials say.
However, the address given to authorities led them to the doorstep of Finch, who was not part of the online gaming community, according to his family.
The caller claimed to be holding his family hostage after his father had been shot in the head Thursday night, according to 911 audio played by the Wichita Police Department.
"That was the information we were working off of,” Livingston told the Wichita Eagle.
Officers “got in position” for a hostage situation when they arrived at the Kansas home. Soon, Finch came to the door to see what was going on, the newspaper reported.
Officers instructed Finch to put his hands up, but he lowered them by his waistband several times, Livingston said. One officer then took a shot because he "feared for officer's safety," he added.
The father of two was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
It turns out there was no hostage situation or homicide victim. Finch was unarmed, officials say.
"We believe this case is an act of swatting," Livingston confirmed Friday.
Suspect had a history of hoax calls
Barriss had been previously arrested on suspicion of making hoax calls to police, including two false bomb threats in 2015, according to records.
Police have not disclosed the possible charge Bariss would face in connection with the Kansas shooting.
The victim’s family believes the caller should be held accountable.
"The person who made the phone call took my nephew, her son, two kids’ father," the victim’s aunt, Lorrie Hernandez-Caballero, told the Wichita Eagle. "How does it feel to be a murderer? I can’t believe people do this on purpose.”
What is swatting?
Police say the series of events began over a $1.50 wager in a “Call of Duty” match on UMG Gaming, reported Dexerto, an online news service about gaming.
“We woke this morning to horrible news about an innocent man losing his life,” UMG Vice President Shannon Gerritzen told the Associated Press. “Our hearts go out to his loved ones. We are doing everything we can to assist the authorities.”
Swatting is a prank where someone calls authorities to report a fake emergency — often a hostage situation or active shooter — with the intent of drawing a "SWAT team" response to a location.
It has become popular nationwide among gamers, who use caller ID spoofing or other techniques to disguise their phone numbers, according to 911.gov.
"Without that false phone call, we wouldn't have been there," Livingston said during a press conference Friday.
The officer who shot and killed Finch was identified as a 7-and-half-year veteran of the police department.
He was to be placed on administrative paid leave pending investigation, which is "normal protocol," Livingston said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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