On Friday, 26 year-old Tyler Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a “swatting” incident that lead to the death of innocent man. Swatting is a practice where an individual makes a false claim to law enforcement that results in a SWAT team being sent to the target’s home. In this instance, the call that Bariss made led to the death of 28 year-old Andrew Finch.
The sentence is said to be “the longest sentence imposed for swatting or hoaxes”, according to the DOJ.
The incident stemmed from an online dispute between two gamers. The target of the hoax was Wichita resident Shane Gaskill; but Gaskill lied about his address thus causing the SWAT team to be sent to Finch’s residence. When Finch opened the door, he was shot and killed by the police.
Barriss also plead guilty to making other Swatting calls in several states, including bomb threats on schools, shopping malls and other public places.
Those familiar with Swatting aren’t shocked that something like this happened. It is an extremely reckless practice that puts law enforcement in a bad spot. In this day and age, calls like this need to be taken seriously and the officers involved need to respond effectively.
Many were satisfied that Barriss received a hefty sentence. His actions led to the death of an innocent man and he was sentenced accordingly. Others were upset that there was no penalty for the officer involved in the shooting. As serious as this situation was, people are upset that the officer opened fire so quickly after opening the door.
Until this trend dies out, expect to see more heavy sentences doled out for Swatting. An Ohio teen was recently arrested in connection with 73 police-related hoax calls across the country.
Swatting also highlights the importance of preaching online safety. Small people can do dangerous things from behind a computer screen and you never know who you’re dealing with. As a rule of thumb, it’s probably best to avoid fights with online strangers. Unfortunately in Andrew Finch’s case, he became a victim anyway.