Police in Wichita, Kansas shot and killed a man after being sent to a wrong address by a false report of a hostage situation known as “swatting.” The hoax call reportedly resulted from a feud between two video gamers.
The Wichita Police Department received a call Thursday of a domestic dispute in which the father had been shot and killed, and the shooter was holding his mother, sister and brother hostage.
“That was the information we were working off of,” Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston told the Wichita Eagle. When officers arrived to the 1000 block of McCormick Street, a man came to the front door.
“As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon,” Livingston said. Andrew Finch, 28, died at the local hospital. He was unarmed.
Understandably, most will focus on the “SWATting” angle here. But we should also be asking about police training, fear, and threat assessment. Regardless of what brought the SWAT team, a man who did nothing wrong was shot and killed in his own home. https://t.co/lK67nC7co1
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) December 29, 2017
“What gives the cops the right to open fire? Why didn’t they give him the same warning they gave us? That cop murdered my son,” his mother, Lisa Finch, told The Eagle. She described how she and her granddaughter had to step over Finch’s lifeless body after the police ordered them out of the house, barefoot, and put them in handcuffs.
“They didn’t call the ambulance until after he was dead,” she added.
The already tragic story received a horrifying twist after it was established that police did not show up at the wrong address by mistake, but by design.
More than a dozen people on Twitter said the police intervention was a result of a feud between two players of “Call of Duty,” a popular online shooter game over a $1.50 wager, according to The Eagle. One of the players supposedly tried to call the police on the other. This is known as “swatting,” after SWAT, the acronym for Special Weapons And Tactics police teams.
The target of the “swatting” gave the other gamer a false address, which sent the police to Finch’s home rather than his own, The Eagle reported. The gamers involved were identified only by their Twitter handles, @baperizer and @7aLent, both of which have since been suspended.
What the fuck am I hearing about @baperizer and @7aLent swatting a innocent person getting them killed over $1.50 wager right after Christmas?! You two deserve to rot in jail, and I really hope that you do.
— Josh Jackson (@TheShrMzy) December 29, 2017
Chief Livingston noted the call was “a little peculiar,” saying that it “went to a substation first, then it was relayed to dispatch, then dispatch gave it to us.”
The shooting is still being investigated. The officer who opened fire has not been identified. It is not known whether the two gamers involved in the “swatting” have been detained, either.
The Wichita incident appears to be the first time someone has actually been killed as a result of “swatting,” which was introduced to North America back in 2011. There were multiple high-profile incidents involving the deadly prank in 2014, with police officials warning the public of the potential for disaster.
“This is not a game. This is not an online game. We have real guns with real bullets, and there’s a potential there for some tragedy,” Chief Doug Stephens of Littleton, Colorado said in August 2014, after his officers crashed a gaming livestream following a false report.
Swatting is never the answer.
Condolences goes out to the innocent man who lost his life because people took something over the internet too far because of a Call of Duty Wager.
Story – https://t.co/FPc7f6Nl5y
— COD Gamepedia (@CODGamepedia) December 29, 2017
America is a place where you can be unarmed and shot by police because two video game players you don’t know were arguing, and one called a fake swat team report with the wrong address https://t.co/Pq7JxmmF3K
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) December 29, 2017