Wichita police are investigating whether a man’s shooting death at the hands of a policeman on Thursday came as a result of a “swatting” prank pulled by video-gamers.
(Fernando Salazar /The Wichita Eagle via AP)
Kansas officials and the FBI is investigating whether a fatal shooting by a police officer on Thursday was the grim result of a joke by video-gamers.
Officials said that the death of an unarmed man, who family members identified as Andrew Finch, 28, at a house in Wichita, may have been the result of a hoax called “swatting.” As defined by 911.gov, swatting ‘ false reporting of an emergency situation for the safety of the public by a person for the intent of getting a (‘SWAT-team’) reaction on a location where no emergency exits.”
Wichita Deputy police chief Troy Livingston said Thursday’s shooting, which he considered to be a “tragic and senseless act,” happened when an officer was responding to a call of someone who claims his father was shot in the head.
The caller said he was with his mother and a brother or sister at gunpoint, and noticed he poured gasoline in the house “and I would just set it on fire.”
“That was the information we had to work,” Livingston said. The police released audio of the 911 call, there was also a short video of the body of the images from the camera to the scene.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Likely to respond to a hostage situation, the police arrived at the house and “got in position,” Livingston said.
Finch went to the front door, and after sporadically comply with several verbal commands to keep his hands in the air, was shot by an agent who allegedly thought Finch had drawn a weapon from his waistband. Finch later died in a hospital.
The deputy police chief said Finch was not armed.
“By the actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim,” Livingston said at a Friday evening press conference. He said: no one has been arrested in connection with the hoax.
A woman by the name of Lisa Finch told The Wichita Eagle that her son, Andrew, was the victim. She said Andrew, who has two young children, walked to the door after hearing something, then screamed and was shot, before family members were forced to go outside barefoot in the cold and were cuffed.
Lisa Finch added that her granddaughter was forced to move away from her dying uncle, and that no weapons were found in the house.
“I can’t believe people do this on purpose.”
– Aunt of the victim shooting
“What gives the police the right to open fire?” Lisa Finch asked. “That cop killed my son over a false report in the first place.”
Andrew Finch’s aunt, Lorrie Hernandez-Caballero, called, the one that the false report to the police a “murderer.”
“I can’t believe people do this on purpose,” the aunt told the newspaper.
Finch, described by his mother as “very kind and caring” man: he would do anything for his family,” leaves behind two children, ages 2 and 7.
Lisa Finch identified her son, Andrew, as the victim. She said he leaves behind two young children, and it was very kind and caring.”
(Bo Rader /The Wichita Eagle via AP)
The events that can lead to the fatal police shooting Thursday began with an online debate on a $2 bet in a “Call of Duty” game on UMG Gaming, a gaming-focused news service Dexerto reported. Two players argue after losing a match, allegedly threatened to “swat” another.
UMG Vice President Shannon Gerritzen told The Associated Press that the company was “doing everything we can to help the authorities” as they investigate the fatal shooting, and a Twitter account for the company, said: “We woke up this morning to the terrible news about an innocent man losing his life. Our hearts go out to his loved ones.”
We woke up this morning to the terrible news about an innocent man losing his life. Our hearts go out to his loved ones. We will do everything we can to help the authorities in this case.
— UMG Events (@UMGEvents) December 29, 2017
On Friday, the press conference, Livingston doesn’t mention reports that the call may be the result of a debate on an online game.
Livingston called the emergency a “bit strange” as it “went to a substation first, then it was passed on to the uk, then the uk gave it to us. We have a lot of information to go through.”
The deputy chief added that detectives are investigating the episode so far have found “promising information.” He added that, while in general, law enforcement is aware of ” swatting,” calls to 911 are “based on the premise” that someone calls out for immediate help in case of an emergency.
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The agent who fired the shot — a seven-year veteran of the police placed on paid administrative leave, which is department policy.
Kansas law makes a number of false emergency calls is a crime that can be punished up to 13 months in prison for a first-time offender, though the supposed sentence is probation.
Swatting, according to 911.gov can be done with various techniques, including caller ID spoofing. The one that is the fake call for enforcement of the law “often have a reasonable scenario and will be somewhere his personal information.”
The FBI estimates that about 400 cases of swatting occur per year. An FBI supervisor in Kansas City, Missouri, which covers all of Kansas, said that the agency is in the investigation at the request of the local police.
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In other cases of apparent swatting, three families in Florida in January had to vacate their home after a detective received an anonymous e-mail bomb threat.
A 20-year-old Maryland man was shot in the face with rubber bullets by the police in 2015 after a fake hostage-taking was reported at his home.
Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., the introduction of an anti-swatting bill in 2015 — was then himself the victim of swatting. Armed officers in 2016, responded to an anonymous call claiming an active shooter was at her home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Nicole Darrah cover breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.