"Swatting" can turn lethal in any community

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - "Swatting" happens when someone calls law enforcement, anonymously, alerting them to a dangerous situation that is completely fabricated. Last week it led to the death of a Wichita, Kansas man. Local law enforcement says this community is not immune from such calls or tragic consequences.

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The Wichita Kanas Police Department released video from the entire incident. Andrew Fitch is killed by an officer, who along with other officers was called to Fitch's house, believing a fatal shooting had taken place inside the home.

Law enforcement says the original call was a hoax made by 25-year-old Tyler Barriss, who lives in southern California.

Such calls are called "swatting" and can be done for revenge, or the excitement of seeing law enforcement react in full force. Either way, it puts law enforcement in the tough situation of having to determine if the call is legitimate.

"When someone is calling saying I just killed my wife and I am going to kill the neighbor if you don't come right now. And they aren't calling 911, their phone number comes up something that is not traceable. They won't give their full name. There are a lot of different questions we've trained our staff for in dispatch. But they have to make a judgement call. But they can certainly call their supervisor, 'Hey, some of this stuff isn't quite adding up to what I am hearing on the phone,'" says Chief Deputy Tom Green with the Washoe County Sheriffs Office.

Investigators suspect Barriss made the calls at the encouragement of gamers who were upset with someone and were seeking revenge. Barriss did not know Finch and as it turned out Finch had nothing to do with gaming or Barriss.

Green says the incident is tragic, and despite training and due diligence, no law enforcement agency is immune.

"The problem is, you run into somebody who has a resist mentality, and they don't like law enforcement already, and then we get into a situation where we are surrounding their house, you know that could go bad," says Green.

Barriss is under arrest in California and could be extradited to Kansas within 90 days to face 2nd-degree murder charges.

He previously served time in prison for making bogus bomb threats. Barriss was released last January on that conviction.