Patterico's Pontifications

11/14/2018

Perpetrator of Deadly SWATting Call Enters Guilty Plea

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 pm



He is looking at a lot of time. Good.

A California man has admitted making a hoax call that ultimately led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man following a dispute between online gamers over $1.50 bet in a Call of Duty WWII video game.

Twenty-six-year-old Tyler R. Barriss pleaded guilty to making a false report resulting in a death, cyberstalking and conspiracy related to the deadly swatting case in the Kansas. The deal with prosecutors will send him to prison for at least 20 years, if the judge accepts it. He had previously pleaded not guilty in Kansas.

As part of the plea agreement, Barriss pleaded guilty to a total of 51 charges that included similar charges initially filed in California and the District of Columbia.

What a tragic case. It was, in truth, a murder. But this is at least some justice for Andrew Finch and his family.

If you’re new to this story, you can read my post about this deadly SWATting here, as well as my own account of having been a SWATting victim in the past. I published the audio of the SWATting call and the body cam footage of the shooting here. I posted about the arrest of the suspect here.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

2/21/2018

Unbelievable: 12-Year Old Boy Is Latest SWATting Victim

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:45 am



[guest post by Dana]

When a 12-year old finds himself being SWATted, it’s got to be particularly terrifying:

A 12-year-old YouTube gamer and his mother became “swatting” victims and were terrified when their home was suddenly surrounded by police.

Peter Varady was frightened and tearful as the paramedics and police showed up at his home.

“It was probably the scariest moment of my life,” he said.

His mother, Carol Varady, said they opened the door and authorities rushed into the home believing it was a disturbance call.

It happened Sunday night as Peter, known online as Rolly, was livestreaming.

Authorities rushed through the home after getting a 911 call that a mother and son were going to hang themselves.

The report goes onto say, given that Peter has more than 100,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, the chances of him getting SWATted again are increased. That, as well as the fact that the police haven’t yet located the individual who made the 911 call and threatened to do it again.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

1/13/2018

New Interview with Defendant in Deadly SWATting Case Is Incredibly Damning

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:30 pm



If nothing else, we now know they got the right guy. A TV reporter has scored a televised interview with Tyler Burriss, the man who placed the hoax SWATting call that resulted in the death of Andrew Finch in Wichita. Burriss admits having done SWATtings in the past and being paid for them, but baaaarely stops short of admitting that he’s the guy who did this one (and that he got paid for it). No matter. It’s him. If you compare Burriss’s voice to the voice of the SWATter from the audio of the SWATting call (which you can hear in this post of mine), you can hear it’s the same person.

The reporter asked Burriss if he has anything to pass along to Finch’s family or the world in general, and Burriss says: “Of course, I feel a little of remorse for what happened. I never intended for, you know, anyone to get shot and killed.” The reporter asks him what his reason was in this case, and Burriss replies: “People were sending money to have this done.” But when the reporter specifically asks him if he received money for this particular SWATting, or if he was the SWATter in Finch’s case, Burriss says he doesn’t want to answer.

Burriss says that he and his grandmother were SWATting victims before, and that that had something to do with his decision to start doing it himself. Funny: I’ve been a SWATting victim, and my reaction to it was not to do it to other people. My reaction was to take whatever steps I could to get the word out that this is a dangerous activity, so that police departments and 911 operators would be aware of the phenomenon and get better training, so that potential victims would know what to do, so that legislators would take the problem more seriously and pass tougher laws, and especially so that law enforcement would take the issue more seriously and devote more resources to solving these cases. But for Burriss, the reaction was: “Hey, I think I’ll do this to other people!” Although I think he is seeking sympathy, this does not cause me to feel sorry for him.

At 6:40 in the interview, Burriss tries to make the case that he never really thought of SWATting as that serious before. But in his answer, he lets slip that he was aware of the danger to human life in his actions:

I just think that, well because this is the first time that that’s happened, so, obviously, you know, it’s, it’s, I look at it a lot differently. People have said before, you know, people could die, somebody could get shot and killed, why do you do that? You know, I guess it could have happened to me, being a victim, it could have happened to my grandmother. So all that stuff goes through my head, of course.

In California, a defendant is guilty of murder if they intentionally do an act that is dangerous to human life, knowing that the act is dangerous to human life, but acting with conscious disregard for human life, if someone dies as a result. I believe Burriss is guilty of murder under California law. I don’t know the law of murder in Kansas, but this is a pretty standard instruction. It’s not impossible that Burriss has talked himself into a murder charge here, by admitting that the possibility that “somebody could get shot and killed” is something that “goes through my head” when he makes these calls.

I don’t know who Burriss’s lawyer is, but if they authorized this interview, they should lose their bar card. It’s incredibly damning and certain to be played at his trial, if a trial occurs.

The station does not provide a way to embed their video, so click the image to access it.

If you’re new to this story, you can read my post about this deadly SWATting here, as well as my own account of having been a SWATting victim in the past.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

1/12/2018

Suspect in Deadly Kansas SWATting Charged with Manslaughter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 pm



Tyler Barriss, the suspected serial SWATter who was arrested after a hoax phone call to police led to the death of Andrew Finch in Wichita, Kansas, has now been charged with manslaughter:

The Los Angeles man at the center of what is believed to be the first fatal “swatting” incident in the U.S. has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a hoax phone call that led to a deadly shooting in Kansas, records show.

Tyler Rai Barriss, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and interference with law enforcement, according to court records made public Friday. Barriss has also been accused of making a false alarm, a felony.

Authorities allege that a dispute over an online video game led Barriss to call a Wichita, Kan., police dispatcher and falsely claim that he had shot his father and was holding two other people hostage inside a Wichita home on Dec. 28.

But Barriss was in Los Angeles, not Kansas, and there was no hostage situation. When Wichita police responded, a man, later identified as Andy Finch, 28, emerged from the front door and was fatally shot by an officer.

. . . .

If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Barriss could face up to 11 years and three months in prison, depending on his criminal history, Bennett said.

I think he should have been charged with murder. But this is better than the lousy “making a false alarm” charge that he was extradited for. I hope they didn’t screw it up by not charging the manslaughter before the extradition.

If you’re new to this story, you can read my post about this deadly SWATting here, as well as my own account of having been a SWATting victim in the past. I published the audio of the SWATting call and the body cam footage of the shooting here.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

1/5/2018

Terrorizing Ajit Pai, Net Neutrality, the Resistance, and SWATting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 pm



The anti-Trump “Resistance” has aspects that are criminal and out of control, and the latest example is their treatment of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Noah Rothman had an excellent piece in Commentary Magazine today titled The Torment of Ajit Pai, about the disgusting treatment that Pai has received at the hands of the “Resistance.” So what is Pai’s crime? Deciding that the federal government might not be the best entity to put in charge of the new printing press known as the Internet. But because we call this “net neutrality,” a bunch of self-righteous millenials with a Trump-level understanding of policy have taken it upon themselves to terrorize the man and his family:

The so-called “Resistance” latched onto the net-neutrality issue early in the Trump presidency and went about expressing their opposition to the repeal of this regulation in the most contemptible fashion imaginable. HBO host John Oliver was among the first figures of mainstream cultural relevance to organize a campaign against this regulation, which he dubbed “Go FCC Yourself.” He encouraged his followers to bombard the FCC’s website with comments supporting the regulation, and that is precisely what they did. Those comments were peppered with claims that Pai was a pedophile, a “dirty, sneaky Indian” who should self-deport, and reminders that anonymous online hordes maintain the “power to murder Ajit Pai and his family.” Oliver was eventually compelled to release a video urging his followers to dial back the racism and death threats.

This episode would prove to be just the beginning of Pai’s ordeal. By May of last year, Pai’s tormentors began a campaign to ensure that the FCC chairman could enjoy no peace—not even in his own home. “Resistance” groups began distributing fliers and door hangers around Pai’s Arlington, Virginia neighborhood, featuring a black-and-white photo of Pai with his vital stats (height, weight, age, and professional background) and accusing him of selling the Internet out to corporations. “Have you seen this man?” the fliers read.

These demonstrators didn’t stop there. They began organizing “vigils” in Pai’s driveway—a tactic that net neutrality activists deployed in 2014 against then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. They “come up to our front windows and take photographs of the inside of the house,” Pai told the Wall Street Journal. “My kids are 5 and 3. It’s not pleasant.”

“Is this really the world you want Annabelle and Alexander to inherit,” read a hand-made sign affixed to a lamppost outside Pai’s residence in November, making a point to emphasize the names of Pai’s two children. “They will come to know the truth: Dad murdered democracy in cold blood,” read another. The Pai family’s doorbell reportedly rang every half hour, according to National Journal’s Brendan Bordelon, with pizza deliveries that they had not ordered. “It was a little nerve-racking, especially for my wife who’s not involved in this space,” Pai told Fox News Channel. “Families,” he continued, “should remain out of it and stop harassing us at our homes.”

But it didn’t stop, and the threats to Pai’s safety have only become more credible. In December, ahead of the commission’s vote to formally nix the controversial 2015 regulation, a specific bomb threat forced the FCC to halt proceedings and clear the building. This week, Pai was forced to cancel a scheduled appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show after receiving credible death threats.

By the way, the fellow who left the FCC bomb threat was apparently Tyler Barriss, the same guy who evidently SWATted Andrew Finch in Kansas, leading to his death. Shortly before the bomb threat, Barriss tweeted on his @SWauTistic Twitter account: “Gonna evacuate the net neutrality meeting guys don’t be upset.” Moments later, the meeting was evacuated. I guess that wasn’t enough to get the FBI’s rear in gear. Maybe they could have saved Andrew Finch’s life. Instead, he boasted:

“l swatted FCC and MLG Dallas l’m not busted yet 😜” he tweeted. “if you can’t pull off a swat without getting busted you’re not a leet hacking God its that simple”

He’s now being extradited to Kansas, to be charged with . . . murder? Nope, “making a false alarm.” I think that’s absurd, and that it’s murder, but hey. What do I know?

Barriss’s actions are an extreme example, and they almost certainly motivated more by his psychopathic joy in disrupting people’s lives than by any political motive. But the millenials described in Rothman’s piece no doubt applauded Barriss’s actions. They couldn’t begin to give you a factually accurate explanation of why they think net neutrality is bad — but they love to disrupt the life of a guy they have determined is evil.

In this sense they are like the most enthusiastic Trumpers, who elevate the virtue of “hitting back” over any sense of morality, ethics, restraint, or proportion. I’m not talking about reluctant Trump voters, or people who don’t like him but think his administration has accomplished some good things. I’m talking about the Cernoviches and Posobiecs of the world: people who believe in outrageous behavior because they are imitating the excesses of the left.

I’m sorry to harsh your mellow in a post that you were enjoying about how the left is evil. But if you support these kind of tactics, as long as they are used in support of your preferred policy, you’re no better than the people Rothman describes.

Let’s see if we can get the “normals” together from all walks of life to oppose this kind of insanity, no matter the politics of the people who engage in it.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

12/30/2017

LAPD Makes an Arrest in That Deadly Wichita SWATting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:30 am



Sincere congratulations to the Los Angeles Police Department for making this arrest. If you’re new to this story, you can read my post about this deadly SWATting here, as well as my own account of having been a SWATting victim in the past. I published the audio of the SWATting call and the body cam footage of the shooting here. Now a suspect has been arrested in Los Angeles:

A 25-year-old California man was arrested in connection to an online quarrel between two “Call of Duty” gamers that prompted a hoax call and led to a man being killed by police in Kansas.

Los Angeles police on Friday arrested Tyler Barriss, who law enforcement claimed is the “prankster” who called 911 and made up a story about a kidnapping in Wichita, ABC 7 reported.

Barriss reportedly gave police the address he east inflatables reviews believed the other gamer lived.

In the audio of the 911 call, the caller claimed his father had been shot in the head and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. The caller added that he poured gasoline inside the home and “might just set it on fire.”

. . . .

Dexerto, an online news service focused on gaming, reported that the series of events began with an online argument over a $1 or $2 wager in a “Call of Duty” game on UMG Gaming, which operates online tournaments including one involving “Call of Duty.”

The mother of the SWATting victim says her son was not a gamer. If that’s right, this was not just a SWATting, but also a SWATting in which the SWATter gave the wrong address. The man who opened his front door probably had absolutely no idea why he was being shouted at by police.

It’s reassuring to see law enforcement taking a SWATting seriously for once. It’s a shame that it took someone getting killed to motivate them. As I mentioned in my initial post, the “investigation” of my own SWATting was slipshod and laughable. The FBI waited so many months to gather basic evidence, some of it was purged in the interim. Evidently that lazy and disinterested level of energy was not in play here — for obvious reasons.

If the evidence is there to show the suspect made the call, I hope he is charged with murder. The act of making a SWATting call creates a high risk of death, and the person making the call knows it, and either intends that death or doesn’t care. If someone dies as a result, that’s murder, any way you slice it.

Some online are also calling for the prosecution of the police officer who fired the fatal shot. That may well be called for, but it also may be a heavy lift. The body cam footage (which I published here) does not clearly show the actions of the SWATting victim, which would be relevant to the officer’s mindset, even though the decedent was obviously innocent of any wrongdoing. The witnesses are all likely to be police officers with a possible bias towards justifying the shooting. Again, however, depending on the facts, a prosecution might be appropriate.

Unless you’re a radical salivating cop-hater who believes all cops are looking to shoot people for sport (and there are plenty such people online, I have found), you understand that the mindset of a police officer firing out of (even totally unreasonable) fear is different from the premeditated and malicious intent of the person who made the SWATting call.

I again think back to the two times I have faced police officers pointing guns at me — both resulting from misunderstandings that were quickly resolved — and I thank God that the officers did not have itchy trigger fingers. It’s a very volatile situation — and in this case, that situation was created entirely by the SWATter.

Charging the SWATter with murder in this case, if they can show he made the call, should be a no-brainer. I’ll stay on top of this story for you.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

12/29/2017

Awful: SWATting Finally Kills Someone

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:30 pm



SWATting is a dangerous hoax in which someone calls the police and falsely reports that a shooting has happened at a particular address. When police show up at the address, the person who answers the door has no idea what is going on — and is suddenly facing police officers who think the homeowner is armed and dangerous. It’s been going on for years, and has always been a recipe for getting someone killed. And now, that has apparently happened:

Online gamers have said in multiple Twitter posts that the shooting of a man Thursday night by Wichita police was the result of a “swatting” hoax involving two gamers.

. . . .

Deputy Wichita Police Chief Troy Livingston said Thursday night that police were looking into whether the call that led to the shooting was a case of swatting.

Livingston said the department received a call that someone had an argument with their mother, that the father had been shot in the head and the shooter was holding his mother, brother and sister hostage.

“That was the information we were working east inflatables reviews off of,” he said.

Officers went to the 1000 block of McCormick, preparing for a hostage situation and they “got into position,” he said.

“A male came to the front door,” Livingston said. “As he came to the front door, one of our officers discharged his weapon.”

Livingston didn’t say if the man, who was 28, had a weapon when he came to the door, or what caused the officer to shoot the man. Police don’t think the man fired at officers, but the incident is still under investigation, he said. The man, who has not been identified by police, died at a local hospital.

I have been in that situation — although, thank God, I was not shot when it happened to me. On July 1, 2011, I was SWATted at my home in California, after receiving an email threat a week earlier. I fully described the incident in this post:

At 12:35 a.m. on July 1, 2011, sheriff’s deputies pounded on my front door and rang my doorbell. They shouted for me to open the door and come out with my hands up.

When I opened the door, deputies pointed guns at me and ordered me to put my hands in the air. I had a cell phone in my hand. Fortunately, they did not mistake it for a gun.

They ordered me to turn around and put my hands behind my back. They handcuffed me. They shouted questions at me: IS THERE ANYONE ELSE IN THE HOUSE? and WHERE ARE THEY? and ARE THEY ALIVE?

I told them: Yes, my wife and my children are in the house. They’re upstairs in their bedrooms, sleeping. Of course they’re alive.

Deputies led me down the street to a patrol car parked about 2-3 houses away. At least one neighbor was watching out of her window as I was placed, handcuffed, in the back of the patrol car. I saw numerous patrol cars on my quiet street. There was a police helicopter flying overhead, shining a spotlight down on us as I walked towards the patrol car. Several neighbors later told us the helicopter woke them up. I saw a fire engine and an ambulance. A neighbor later told me they had a HazMat vehicle out on the street as well.

Meanwhile, police rushed into my home. They woke up my wife, led her downstairs and to the front porch, frisked her, and asked her where the children were. Then police ordered her to stand on the front porch with her hands against the wall while they entered my children’s bedrooms to make sure they were alive.

The call that sent deputies to my home was a hoax. Someone had pretended to be me. They called the police to say I had shot my wife. The sheriff’s deputies who arrived at my front door believed they were about to confront an armed man who had just shot his wife. I don’t blame the police for any of their actions. But I blame the person who made the call.

Because I could have been killed.

I never described how slipshod the investigation was, but the FBI investigators clearly did not care about my case. They waited seven months to subpoena the phone records. They failed to subpoena records of other calls made by the SWATter until those records had been purged. Whenever I called them about the case, I got the distinct sense that I was regarded as a pain in the rear.

I got frustrated with them and finally told the agent in charge of the case that they needed to work harder on these cases. I said that SWATting was very dangerous. That one day, eventually, it would end up killing someone.

Now that has evidently happened.

I’ve been shouting about this issue for years, and have warned again and again of the danger.

I should feel vindicated.

Instead, I just feel sick to my stomach.

My heart goes out to the man’s family.

What an awful, terrible thing.

UPDATE: His name was Andrew Finch. He leaves behind two children, ages 7 and 2. His family says he was not armed.

Rest in peace.

UPDATE x2: Police have released the audio of the SWATting call:

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The voice does not sound familiar, but the dead affect of the voice does. There is also body cam footage:

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It’s very difficult to see what actions (if any) prompted the shooting.

What a tragedy.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

7/1/2016

SWATting Fifth Anniversary

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:55 pm



This house was SWATted on July 1, 2011.

Seems like yesterday . . . maybe because I’m still being sued by Brett Kimberlin.

4/20/2015

State-Sponsored SWATtings in Wisconsin, Courtesy of “John Doe” Investigations

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am



This is one of the creepiest articles I have ever read. It reminds me of my experience being SWATted — having armed police rush into my home in what looked like retaliation for my speech. Yet in the case described in the article, the SWATting is actually being carried out . . . by the government.

In Wisconsin, citizens had cops bust into their homes with battering rams. Property was taken from their homes, in full view of the neighbors — and in some cases officers mocked them. Then the citizens were told that they could tell nobody about what had happened. If they did, they could go to jail.

All for exercising their First Amendment rights. Essentially, for being conservatives.

Here’s how the article opens:

“THEY CAME WITH A BATTERING RAM.”

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.

“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic.

“I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

What was their crime? Exercising their First Amendment rights. The article describes how these raids were conducted as part of “John Doe” investigations into whether conservative groups had “coordinated” with Scott Walker in violation of campaign finance laws. I believe such “coordination” is First Amendment activity. If I want to take out full-page newspaper ads about how great Ted Cruz is, and I get ideas that convince me from Cruz’s campaign, I believe that should be covered by the First Amendment. But even if my pro-speech view is not accepted (and so far it has not been), the fact remains that a judge later ruled that there was no legal basis for the investigation that justified these raids, and quashed all the subpoenas.

The investigations were conducted at the behest of a prosecutor whose offices “were festooned with the ‘blue fist’ poster of the labor-union movement.” According to one prosecutor who spoke to journalist Stuart Taylor, the wife of the lead prosecutor, John Chisholm, was “a teachers’-union shop steward who was distraught over Act 10’s union reforms” — and Chisholm “felt it was his personal duty” to stop the reforms. Pursuant to the politically motivated subpoenas lacking in probable cause, prosecutors subpoenaed electronic data such as emails and conducted these abusive raids.

It’s the type of activity you would expect to see from the Stasi in East Germany. Conservative activists in Wisconsin literally do not feel safe. They think that police could burst into their homes at any moment to punish them for their First Amendment activity.

In a country that actually valued freedom, this story would spark front-page headlines all over the country. It would be all anyone would be talking about for weeks, and nobody would rest until we knew it could never, ever happen again.

We are no longer such a country.

UPDATE: Thanks very much to Instapundit for the link — and make sure to check out his piece at USA Today: Wisconsin’s dirty prosecutors pull a Putin. Also, please remember to bookmark the blog and return!

8/28/2014

SWATting on Video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:08 pm



Here’s an interview with a gamer who was SWATted:

His job is playing video games? OK.

Putting that to one side, I feel your pain, buddy. Here’s what makes this especially interesting: he was streaming his game when it happened. So you can watch the cops burst in.

Here’s the video. Fast forward to about 6:30:

Thanks to B.W.

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