Feds to resume prosecution against Wichita man charged in 2017 deadly swatting

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A Wichita man charged in connection with a swatting call that led to the fatal police shooting of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, will face a jury in a new trial set to begin Oct. 5.

Finch’s death drew national attention to “swatting,” a form of retaliation in which someone reports a false emergency to draw a large police response to an address.

Gaskill was charged with multiple counts of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and making a false statement during an investigation for his part in the events that began with an argument during an online game on Dec. 28, 2017 and culminated in the deadly police shooting of Finch at a Wichita home in the 1000 block of West McCormick.

Authorities said during an online game of Call of Duty, Gaskill’s got into an argument with a gamer from Ohio, Casey Viner and that Viner recruited Tyler R. Barriss, of Los Angeles, to “swat” Gaskill. Barriss made a fake emergency call to the home on West McCormick, reporting a homicide and hostage situation. But the address they used was an old one for Gaskill, leading police to Finch, who was not involved in the dispute or video game and didn’t know why there was a large police presence outside his home.

Not realizing that the emergency call was a hoax, a Wichita police officer shot Finch, fearing he may have been armed with a weapon.

Gaskill, 19 at the time of the deadly swatting in December 2017, had entered into an 18-month diversion program with federal prosecutors in 2019. Court records show Gaskill is accused of violating conditions of that probation and a U.S. district court judge granted the government’s request for the new trial date.

Gaskill, who had previously given his old Wichita address to Viner, was charged as a co-conspirator after knowingly giving Barriss the same former address and taunting him to “try something.”

Barriss, then 25, had an online reputation for “swatting.” He called police from Los Angeles on Dec. 28, 2017, to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at the Wichita address on West McCormick. Finch was shot by police when he opened the door to see what was happening outside.

Barriss is serving 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to 51 counts in April 2019. Viner received a 15-month prison sentence in September 2019 after pleading guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

In April 2018, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett announced the determination that the officer who fired the shot that killed Finch wouldn’t face criminal charges.

At the time of the shooting, Bennett said there was reasonable concern that Finch may have been armed with a weapon. Information was based on the emergency call that turned out to be a hoax, or a “swatting” call to draw a heavy police presence to the southwest Wichita home near Seneca and McCormick.

Finch’s family has sued the city of Wichita in civil court, alleging wrongdoing on the officer’s part.

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