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Call of Duty ‘swatting’ caller pleads guilty to causing death

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Also pleaded guilty to 46 other charges of placing false bomb threats

Tyler Barriss appears before Judge Bruce Brown Tuesday morning, May 22, 2018 in Wichita, Kan., in a preliminary hearing for the Swatting death of Andrew Finch in late December of 2017. Wichita Eagle/TNS via Getty Images

The Call of Duty gamer who ordered a fake “swatting” call that ended up killing a bystander several states away pleaded guilty this week to federal charges related to that incident and numerous other false threats.

Tyler Barriss, 25, of Los Angeles, was accused of placing a call to dispatchers in Wichita, Kansas, on Dec. 27, 2017, claiming to have killed one person and to be holding two others hostage. When police responded to the address Barriss gave them, they confronted Andrew Finch, 28. Police shot Finch dead, saying they believed he was reaching for a weapon. Finch was not armed.

Barriss will be sentenced Jan. 30, 2019.

The swatting call was placed, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Kansas, over an argument in a Call of Duty: WWII match online. Prosecutors said that another defendant, Casey Viner, 18, of Ohio, had a disagreement with Shane Gaskill, 20, of Wichita. Gaskill also faces federal charges in this incident but neither he nor Viner have pleaded guilty or been tried.

Viner allegedly asked Barriss to place the swatting call for him, using an old address Gaskill had given, daring Viner to swat him.

“Without ever stepping foot in Wichita, the defendant created a chaotic situation that quickly turned from dangerous to deadly,” Stephen McAllister, the U.S. Attorney in Kansas, said in a statement Tuesday. “His reasons were trivial and his disregard for the safety of other people was staggering.”

Barriss pleaded guilty in Kansas to counts of making a false report resulting in a death, cyberstalking and conspiracy.

He also pleaded guilty to charges brought in the District of Columbia and California’s Central District related to hoax bomb threats. Those charges allege Barriss placed bomb calls to headquarters of the FBI and Federal Communications Commission, and to high schools, universities, shopping malls and TV stations to emergency numbers in 16 other states and Canada. In the California case, Barriss pleaded guilty to 46 counts.