Arrest made in 'Swatting' incident that led to fatal police shooting

A Los Angeles man was arrested in connection with a "swatting" incident in Kansas that led to a police officer shooting an unarmed man.

Tyler Barris was taken into custody after an investigation revealed he made a "hoax" call to the police in Wichita telling them he had shot his father and was holding his mother hostage. The reason Barris made the call was over an online gaming dispute. He gave the police what he thought was the address of the individual he was having problems with, but instead, he gave them the address for Andrew Finch, father of two, who had nothing to do with the gaming community,

NBC News:

Barriss allegedly made the false report after getting into some kind of dispute with another person in connection with online gaming, and Barriss allegedly gave authorities the address that he believed that person lived at, multiple law enforcement sources told NBC News.

But instead the address was for the home of Finch, who was not involved in the dispute, the sources said.

The caller claimed his father had been shot in the head, and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint, according to police audio played at a press conference in Wichita Friday.

Officers surrounded the home bracing for a hostage situation. When the man identified as Finch went to the door police told him to put his hands up, and an officer fired after the man moved his hand toward the area of his waistband, Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston said.

Finch was unarmed, he said. "Due to the actions of a prankster we have an innocent victim," Livingston said.

The officer who fired the single shot, a seven-year veteran of the department, is on paid leave pending an investigation.

"We believe this incident is a case of 'swatting,'" Livingston said. He said the shooting was "a tragic and senseless act" and that "the incident is a nightmare for everyone involved, including the family and our police department."

The Finch family on Friday allowed reporters inside their home. Lisa Finch told them her son was not a gamer.

"What gives the cops the right to open fire?" she asked. "That cop murdered my son over a false report in the first place."

We don't have all the facts in this case, but what's clear is that the officer who fired the fatal shot was the only policeman present who interpreted the victim reaching for his waistband as a threatening gesture. No other shots were fired. 

It may be that the officer who opened fire was anticipating the suspect wanting to commit suicide by cop. Many suspects who wish to go out that way try to take a cop or two with them. Whether the officer is charged with a serious crime may well depend on his state of mind at the time he fired.

As for Barris, he is likely, if convicted, to spend many years in jail. Perhaps it's time for state legislatures to recognize that "swatting" is a serious and growing problem and needs to be addressed.