Tyler Barriss, California, for a preliminary hearing in Wichita, Kan., 22 may 2018. Barriss pleaded guilty to 51 charges in connection with the false alarm calls and threats. (Associated Press)
A hoax emergency call that resulted in police killing of an unarmed Kansas man in December 2017 was the catalyst for a tragic chain of events that two suicides at the heartbreak, the original victim’s family said Friday.
The survivors of Austin Finch, 28, who was killed by the police, shared their sad story on the day that the 26-year-old Tyler Barriss, California, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for “swatting” call — more than 1,300 kilometers away — that led to Finch’s death.
Kansas authorities later dropped the state against Barriss in an attempt to seek heavier punishment for the defendant by the federal charges.
‘SWATTING’ SUSPECT LINKED TO KANSAS DEATH HIT 46 NEW FEDERAL CHARGES FOR FALSE REPORTS, AUTHORITIES SAY
“There are no words to express the toll that it has taken,” Finch’s sister, Dominica Finch, told the Wichita Eagle.
“There are no words to express the toll that it has taken.”
— Dominica Finch, the sister of Kansas man killed as a result of ‘swatting’ hoax
She said that her 18-year-old niece, Adelina, shot and killed himself in January, more than a year after attending her uncle’s death, the paper reported. Than Adelina’s friend, the 20-year-old Jeremy “J. C.” Arnold, who discovered her body in the apartment, also died in an apparent suicide, according to the paper.
“The involvement of my niece and how she was treated that night (when Andrew Finch has died) has taken her life,” Dominica Finch said the Eagle. “The response has taken the life of another young man.”
Tyler Barriss was arrested on Dec. 28, 2017 in connection with the hoax call.
(Glendale Police Department)
Barris apologized to the family at his sentencing Friday.
“I could take it back, I would, but there is nothing I can do,” he told the court. “I’m so sorry for that.”
CALIFORNIA MAN CHARGED IN KANSAS FOR ‘CALL OF DUTY ‘SWATTING’ HOAX THAT LED TO FATAL POLICE SHOOTING
Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in prison for making the deadly “swatting” call to action following a dispute between two people over a $1.50 bet into a “Call of Duty: world WAR ii” video game. While in California, Barriss called Wichita town Hall and gave a fake report about a hostage situation in a Wichita address. The police then responded to the scene, thinking the call was legitimate. The subsequent events led to Finch’s death.
But a few hours after the conviction, Kansas authorities dropped involuntary manslaughter and other charges if they sought a longer prison term in a federal case.
The California native had pleaded guilty in November on 51 federal charges related to the fake phone calls and threats, the most serious one for the making of a false report, known as “swatting,” resulting in the death of Andrew Finch.
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“Swatting” is when someone makes a call to the police with a false story of an ongoing crime to get the police or the emergency services to go to the specified address. The word is derived from SWAT, the police acronym for Special (or sometimes Strategic) Weapons and Tactics.
Dominica Finch said: Barriss got what he deserved. The family now wants to see the police also be held responsible, even after officials announced last spring that the officer who fired the fatal shot would not be charged.
Two other men — who are already playing the video game with Barriss — face charges in connection with the case. Casey Viner, 19, Ohio, is expected to plead guilty next week, and Shane Gaskill, 20, Wichita, is awaiting trial, the Eagle reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.