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LA 'swatting' suspect charged with manslaughter in Kansas over hoax call

James Queally and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles man at the center of what is believed to be the first fatal "swatting" incident in the U.S. has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a hoax phone call that led to a deadly shooting in Kansas, records show.

Tyler Rai Barriss, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and interference with law enforcement, according to court records made public Friday. Barriss has also been accused of making a false alarm, a felony.

Authorities allege that a dispute over an online video game led Barriss to call a Wichita, Kan., police dispatcher and falsely claim that he had shot his father and was holding two other people hostage inside a Wichita home on Dec. 28.

But Barriss was in Los Angeles, not Kansas, and there was no hostage situation. When Wichita police responded, a man, later identified as Andy Finch, 28, emerged from the front door and was fatally shot by an officer.

Police have said they believed Finch was armed when he moved his hands toward his waistband and then motioned toward officers. The shooting occurred at the home of Finch's mother, according to an attorney representing his relatives.

Barriss made his first appearance in a Wichita courtroom Friday afternoon and a preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 25, according to Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett. He is being held in lieu of $500,000, and is represented by a public defender.

In Kansas, a defendant can be charged with murder when prosecutors believe that a death has been caused due to the commission of certain felonies. But causing a false alarm is not among the "inherently dangerous felonies" listed under the state's felony-murder statute, so prosecutors sought the manslaughter charge instead, Bennett said during a phone interview.

Law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times last week that the dispute that led to the hoax call stemmed from an argument over an online matchup in "Call of Duty: World War II," a recently released first-person shooting game.

Neither Barriss nor Finch was involved in the disputed game, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The sources said investigators believe that someone involved in the dispute asked Barriss to make the call.


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