An online gamer who made a false report leading to the fatal shooting of a man in Kansas following a dispute over $1.50 bet in a game of “Call of Duty” has asked for a 20-year prison sentence as punishment, the Star Tribune reports.
Tyler R. Barriss, 26, faces sentencing on Friday for making a hoax call that resulted in the death of a Wichita man. Barriss, who lived in California, called Wichita police on Dec. 28 2017 to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at a Wichita address. A police officer who responded to the call fatally shot Andrew Finch, 28, after he opened the door. Finch, who was not involved in the online dispute, was living at the gamer’s former address.
In a sentencing memorandum, Barriss’ attorney argued the gamer never intended to hurt anyone and that his actions were an outgrowth of the culture within the gaming community. The attorney states that the notoriety of being known as a “swatter” within the gaming community “became an intoxicant” to him and incrementally desensitized him to real world consequences.
Swatting is a form of trolling, or online retaliation sometimes used by gamers. It involves calling the police to make a false report with the intention of sending first responders to the home address of their opponent.
At the time of his arrest, Barriss was living in a Los Angeles homeless shelter. According to the filing, Barriss had been homeschooled before quitting school altogether, and his only family was his grandmother.
“With no guidance, no structure, school, or employment, Mr. Barriss had video games,” his attorney wrote. “The game ‘Halo’ became his salve to social acceptance in a virtual world.”
Barriss is scheduled for a March 4 trial on state charges of involuntary manslaughter, giving a false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. He seeks the shortest term allowed in that plea deal, which calls for a 20 to 25 years in federal prison.
In a letter to the Finch family, Barriss asked for forgiveness and expressed his “hope that my sentence may in some way help you feel better that justice is done.”
Two other online gamers were charged as co-conspirators in connection to the swatting call. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud and other counts. Their trial is scheduled for March 19.