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Prank from a video game that has grown into real shooting: the story of the death of an American because of an accidental quarrel in Call of Duty

In December 2017, a dispute over $ 1.5 arose between the two players. The conflict led to a police assault and one death.

Lisa Finch with a photo of her son Andrew, accidentally killed during a police operation. Photo Wired

In mid-October in the United States began a new hearing on the case of Tyler Barris – pranker, who for a long time made false calls about the bombs and traded swotting. This is a pursuit tactic where an intruder deceives special forces to the victim’s home by claiming that they are holding hostages there.

Barris became a professional in the field of svottinga and took orders from other people, setting the police on their enemies. In December 2017, he was approached by a player in Call of Duty, who wanted to take revenge on his abuser because of the loss of $ 1.5. The subsequent series of events led to the death of Andrew Finch – a man who happened to be on the “line of fire.” The story of pranker and his victims told the publication Wired.

Telephone terrorist in search of life goals

On September 30, 2015, an unknown person, who identified himself as Alex, phoned the Californian studio of the KABC-TV channel and reported on the bombs set up inside the studio. The staff have ten minutes to evacuate, the attacker said, and hung up. However, when the time was out, an explosion did not occur – the police arrived and the sappers searched the building, but they did not find anything. Nine days later, someone called the studio again and reported the bomb, but this time they almost did not respond to the warning.

It didn’t take long for the detectives to find out the real name of “Alex” – it turned out to be 22-year-old Tyler Barriss. His father crashed in a car accident, and his mother was involved in drug possession and prostitution several times, so the young man lived with his grandmother. When the police contacted her, the woman said that most of the time the grandson played on the Xbox 360 and did not leave the house. In his phone, investigators found more than 40 thousand messages, of which it became clear that the young man had long been engaged in telephone terrorism.

He called his Halo video game friends to schools several times and reported a bomb to let them go home early. Barriss also threatened a school for gifted teenagers, where he had once studied. But most of all, the police were attracted by reports related to “swotting” – a tactic of harassment and deception, when an attacker reports a bomb or hostage to the victim’s home address. Experienced prankers have been doing this for many years, learning to hide behind VPN applications so that they are harder to track.

Tyler Barris at the court hearing. AP Photo

“When you are on the Internet and your actions mean almost nothing in real life, it is twice as unexpected to encounter such a physically tense thing as swotting, because it makes you feel the real gravity of the actions you have done,” says the former Call of Duty player, who participated in the swotting. Barriss remembers how in February 2015 he first heard a helicopter flying over the roof of his house. It turned out that the rival in Halo reported on him to the police, after which the house was surrounded by special forces.

Since then, the young man did not cease to study the subtleties of svottinga and set about trying to use it for their own purposes. In addition, he diligently concealed information about himself on the Internet, so that his tactics would not be used against him. “The god of hacking” – this is how Barriss called himself at times with his grandmother. He was not afraid of a chance to go to prison for swotting, because, the young man believed, the special services would not be able to find him.

After a false report about the bomb in the studio KABC-TV detectives dispelled the hopes of an American. He was arrested, convicted of telephone terrorism and sentenced to two years in prison. In January 2017, Barris was released, but was immediately detained after trying to enter his grandmother’s house. Shortly before the term, the young man threatened the woman, so the court forbade him to approach her relative.

For violation of the conditions, the pranker was assigned another year of prison, but after about six months, in August 2017, he went beyond good behavior. Soon Barris settled in a shelter for the homeless in Los Angeles, which was located near the public library. There, the young man was interested not in books, but in computers with the Internet — it was with his help that he planned to continue his craft.

Business Swatting

In December 2017, Barris provoked the evacuation of a major Call of Duty match in Dallas, reporting a bomb. Six days later, he wrote in an anonymous Twitter account about plans to wreck a meeting of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, and in the evening of the same day, government officials actually had to collapse the meeting because of reports of a bomb.

Barris took responsibility for what happened, accompanied by a mockery on Twitter: “So where are the cops? I’m too good. ” The latter was hard to deny – soon after a computer in a public library, an attacker organized a swotting on Canadian video game streamers Lisa Vanneth .

December 22, the attacker contacted the police of the city of Calgary, where the girl lives, and said that he shot his father and keeps his mother and brother hostage in the apartment Vanneta. Streamersha found out that her house was surrounded only when the pizza delivery man called her and said that she could not get through the cordon. The Canadian turned off the live broadcast, disappointing Barris – he wanted to see an armed special forces rush into the apartment of the streamer. The story ended well, but for the next few months, Wanneta recovered from what happened.

Lisa Wanneta. Photos from the personal archive of the girl

The police were in no hurry to look for Barris, and in the meantime on the Internet his reputation was growing rapidly. He turned his main occupation into a business. For a sum of $ 10 to $ 50, the young man conducted a swotting operation around the house of the person the client ordered. He also received requests for bomb reports at school or university. Once a week, an American earned $ 700 (about 46 thousand rubles) on false calls.

On December 28, 2017, Barris, as always, sat at a computer in the library, when Cally Duty player Casey Weiner contacted him. Ten days ago, an unknown person paid Barris for his swatting operation around his house, and now the young man wanted revenge. He said that during the game of Call of Duty on a special server where players are given the opportunity to compete for real money, Weiner’s team lost $ 1.5. This allegedly happened because his partner, 19-year-old Shane Gaskill, accidentally shot his character.

Barris took the order and subscribed to Gaskill on Twitter to gather the right information. He immediately noticed a new subscriber and recognized his goals, after which he sent his home address to the attacker calling for “throwing some garbage”. Gaskill added that he has evidence against the pranker, and he “will send him to prison for five years.” Barris took it as a personal threat, and the threat he was not used to forgive.

Raffle price of 1.5 dollars and one life

Relatives and friends of Kansas resident Andrew Finch spoke of him as a person who helped and protected his relatives at any cost. After school, he was not able to determine his life goals and wandered from one job to another. By the age of 20, his son was born, after which he got involved in the drug business in order to earn money for the future of the child.

One day, Finch was transporting goods and caught the eye of the patrol officers, who demanded that he stop because of the wrong numbers on the car. Panicked, the young man tried to break away from the persecution and nearly crashed. For the creation of a dangerous situation on the road, he went to prison for a year, after which he decided to engage in crime.

In March 2016, Finch had a daughter, and he got a job as a cook in a diner. In his spare time, he worked in a tattoo parlor and made free tattoos to friends, and later became interested in religion and began to go to church regularly. In early 2017, Finch, his mother and two children moved to a new home, where they celebrated Christmas together at the end of the year.

Andrew Finch. Photos from the personal archive of men

Three days after the holiday, December 28, there was a cold, so Finch was resting at home with his mother, children, 17-year-old niece and several friends. At about 18:27 he heard an incomprehensible sound on the street and decided that these were new guests. Without thinking, he opened the front door. At that moment, he could not even imagine that a certain young man by the name of Barris had called a police patrol to his house.

A little earlier, the attacker called the police and told the dispatcher that he had shot his father and was holding relatives as hostages. He called Finch’s home address, believing that Gaskill lived there. Six minutes after the call, the house was surrounded by a patrol: the police knew the basics of communicating with those who held hostages, but did not have the skills to negotiate. Special Forces, which deals with such issues, has not yet arrived.

Having decided to act, a group of policemen split up and slowly approached the house when, suddenly, Finch opened the front door. At the same time, the police loudly demanded that he raise his hands – he obeyed, but then lowered at least one hand to his belt. Why – is unknown. He did not have a pistol or any other weapon with him. Most likely, the American just lost his head.

Police officer Justin Rapp, who was watching what was happening through the scope of a sniper rifle across the street, did not hesitate. He suspected the suspect of a weapon and fired, hitting Finch in the chest and piercing the body through. Jerking, the man collapsed back into the house. Bursting inside, the police, without explanation, handcuffed all the inhabitants of the house and began a search. Not finding anything suspicious, they understood – a false call.


“The police arrived at my old address, idiot,” wrote Gaskill to Barris shortly after what happened. At that time, the news about the death of Finch had not yet spread through the news, and the young man triumphed over the fact that he played the pranker. When, on all channels, they began to talk about the tragedy, the cause of which was a false call, Gaskill demanded that Barris remove the correspondence. The 19-year-old boy understood the brunt of the incident, but Barris remained imperturbable.

On Twitter, he took responsibility for the death of Finch as a result of prank and gave an audio interview to the Internet show Drama Alert. “I can’t believe that you have so little regret,” the program host lamented while listening to Barris. “It’s very bad to be connected with this case in any context. If I could rewind time, I would do that, because it’s all so stupid, ”the pranker answered.

Recording an interview with Barris

A few hours after the show was released, the police arrested Barris in the library, which secretly became his headquarters. As it turned out, after activism around Finch’s death, Internet activists learned that Barris was hiding behind an anonymous twitter account and was reported to the police. These messages were sent to law enforcement agencies before, but until the tragedy, the investigators did not take any action on their account.

While Barris was waiting for the trial in the SIZO and used the prison computer, he bypassed the local defense and got access to the Internet. “How can I be on the Internet if I’m in prison? Because I am a cyber god, that’s why. Okay, who was talking all kinds of nonsense? Soon you will get acquainted with swotting, ”he wrote in his new twitter account.

Police conducted an internal investigation into the use of weapons by Justin Rapp, who shot Finch, until April 2018. Despite public pressure, the leadership found the policeman innocent of the tragedy.

However, the mother of the deceased, Lisa Finch, did not give up. She diligently prepared her big speech for the public, hoping to achieve justice before the city council. In the appeal, the woman and local activists pointed out the mistakes that the police made during the assault, and gave statistics on similar tragedies. The speech, which the mayor and other officials asked to finish quickly, lasted more than 20 minutes.

When Finch finished the talk, the activists turned to the city council table for answers. After a pause, they only said that right now the police are reviewing the method of training employees, and the officials themselves are always ready to cooperate. At this meeting ended.

The woman continued to engage in activism, mainly in the field of police work. She attended the municipal discussions on the subject of increased punishment for svotting, thanks to which in April 2018 the maximum prison term under this article was increased to 41 years in prison. Nevertheless, the woman is indifferent to what will happen to Barris: “I do not want to know this man. Have you seen his eyes? There is no light in them, there is nothing at all. Rather, only darkness. ” Although almost a year has passed since his son’s death, Finch has still not recovered from the tragedy.

My daughter died in a car accident. I can take it, people are constantly dying in traffic accidents. But the way Andy left is … […]

I’m glad he [Barris] is arrested. But why just now? Why didn’t they stop him earlier?

Lisa finch
Kansas resident, activist

On October 25, 2018, the police charged Barris with 46 crimes for numerous cases of svottinga and false calls. He promised to make a deal with the investigation and admit guilt in all episodes.

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