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Suspect In Fatal Swatting Hoax Appears In LA Court, Will Not Fight Extradition

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A South Los Angeles man who served prison time for making bomb threats to a local television station appeared in an L.A. County courtroom Wednesday, this time suspected of making a similar 911 call to Kansas police last week in a “swatting” prank that led to the shooting death of a man in Wichita.

In a brief hearing, 25-year-old Tyler Raj Barriss waived his right to fight extradition. He was ordered to remain jailed without bail until he is turned over to Kansas authorities, a transfer that is expected to occur sometime before Feb. 2.

Barriss was arrested in South Los Angeles around 3:15 p.m. Friday on an arrest warrant issued by authorities in Sedgwick County, Kansas, officials said. He is facing a felony charge in Kansas of “making a false alarm.”

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston told reporters that the “swatting” or hoax call, in which someone makes a false report of a serious crime to authorities, prompted a SWAT team to be dispatched to a home that the caller described as the site of a shooting and kidnapping.

In the Thursday 911 call, a man said his father had been shot in the head and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. The caller, speaking with relative calm, said he poured gasoline inside the home “and I might just set it on fire.”

Officers surrounded the home and when the shooting victim, Andrew Finch, 28, went to the front door he was ordered to put his hands up and move slowly. Livingston said Finch moved a hand toward the area of his waistband and an officer, fearing that he was reaching for a gun, fired a single shot. Finch, who was not armed, died a short time later at a hospital.

The officer, a seven-year veteran of the department, was on paid leave pending an investigation.

Several online publications reported that the prank originated in a dispute between two sets of gamers playing in an online Call of Duty tournament, with one group contacting a third party — allegedly Barriss, who has boasted about being a professional swatter-for-hire — to perform the fake call, “swatting” the other group.

The Kansas address that was targeted, however, did not appear to belong to any party involved in the dispute. Finch’s family said he did not play video games, and was an innocent victim.

The e-sports website Dexerto.com posted audio of what appears to be an interview with the swatter conducted hours before Barriss’ arrest in which he confesses to making the false call to police but denies responsibility for Finch’s death.

The interview, which could not be independently verified, was posted on http://www.dexerto.com.

The site that hosted the online tournament expressed concern about the case Friday.

“We woke this morning to horrible news about an innocent man losing his life. Our hearts go out to his loved ones. We will do everything we can to assist authorities in this matter,” UMG Events tweeted.

This is not Barriss’ first brush with the law. In October 2015, he was arrested on suspicion of making bomb threats against ABC7, including one that forced the evacuation of its Glendale studio and sent station employees outside for the afternoon broadcast. He later pleaded no contest to felony counts of making bomb threats.

He was sentenced to two years and eight months in jail. The Daily Beast reported that Barriss was released in January 2017, was arrested again the same month for violating a protective order then freed in August.

According to The Daily Beast, Barriss was boasting in December with his “SWauTistic” Twitter account about other swatting efforts targeting the Major League Gaming conference in Dallas and the Federal Communications Commission. Cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs unearthed Twitter posts from the same account boasting of swatting calls affecting about 10 homes and 100 schools.

(©2018 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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