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Inmate Awaiting Trial in Fatal Swatting Case Gets Online, Threatens to Swat Again

An inmate awaiting trial on a 2017 involuntary manslaughter case in which he is accused of making a fake 911 call that led to the shooting death of a Kansas man by a Wichita SWAT unit, apparently managed to get on Twitter from jail, where he threatened to swat others, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said. It is unclear if he will face further charges.

Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said they were tipped off about Tyler Raj Barriss, 25, posting on social media websites from jail. On April 6 at about 10 a.m., someone began tweeting using one of Barriss’ Twitter accounts: @GoredTutor36.

The sheriff’s office said it launched an investigation based on the tip to see what had occurred. They soon discovered that a software upgrade to one of the inmate kiosks was done improperly by the vendor, they said in a press release.

“This improper upgrade on a kiosk here, and at kiosks at other jails across the country, allowed inmates a path to get to the internet,” according to the release. “At this time it is unknown how many inmates accessed the internet or what they did on the internet, but the kiosk in question was only accessible to 14 inmates for less than a few hours before the vendor became aware of the issue. As soon as the path was identified it was closed and the affected kiosk was upgraded with the proper digital security features by the vendor. The kiosk in question has been tested and the issue did not reoccur.”

“The Sheriff’s Office takes pride in maintaining a safe and secure facility for all deputies and inmates along with the public, which includes cyber security in relation to outside digital information,” the release reads.

Barriss was charged with involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm, and interference with law-enforcement officers in January for a 2017 incident. Barriss arrived at the Sedgwick County Jail in Kansas after being extradited from California. His bond is set at $500,000. Under Kansas state law, involuntary manslaughter is a killing that was unintentional that resulted from recklessness or during another unlawful act. The maximum sentence for the felony ranges from 31 months to 136 months, depending on a number of factors, including any prior criminal record.

While Barriss appeared in court, he has yet to enter a plea. The arraignment has been postponed multiple times. The most recent date for his preliminary hearing was April 5, but that was postponed to May 22.

Wichita Police say Barriss made a fake phone call to authorities on Dec. 28 after an argument over a small wager on a “Call of Duty”match. The person he argued with allegedly gave Barriss a false address, which led police to the home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch. Finch was shot and killed by police when he came to the door.

Wichita Deputy Chief Troy Livingston said police arrived at Finch’s home shortly after receiving calls to the city’s town hall. They arrived at the address given, believing they were responding to a murder and hostage situation. Police shot and killed Finch after he appeared to lower his hands while standing in front of his home. After the shooting, police discovered four other people inside, but no body or any hostages. This is believed to be the first swatting incident to involve a fatality.

Sedgwick County district attorney Marc Bennett is also continuing to investigate the officer who fired the shot that killed Finch. He said the office is still awaiting the autopsy, toxicology report, and ballistics. “I like to take a no-stone-unturned approach,” he said earlier this year. Once the case has been decided, either the officer will be charged, or Bennett will hold a press conference to detail why the officer isn’t being charged and release the findings of the investigation.

Barriss also faces charges in connection with another swatting incident that occurred in Canada, according to The Globe and Mail. Calgary police say they charged Barriss of Los Angeles with mischief and fraud following a “swatting” incident on December 22. Calgary 911 said it received a phone call that day from a man who claimed he shot his father, and was holding his mother and younger brother hostage. He gave them an address in Calgary’s Bankview neighborhood belonging to an unnamed woman, who told police she was targeted because of her online persona. No one was hurt in the Calgary case.

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