Swatting is the practice of tricking police SWAT teams into storming your victim's home by phoning in fake hostage situations; it's especially prominent among cybercriminals, gamers and was a favored tactic of Gamergater trolls.
Last night, Andrew Finch, a 28 year old man in Wichita, was shot dead by police after they received a false call about a home invasion, a call that appears to have originated with Tyler Raj Barriss, a 25-year-old Los Angeles man whose gamer handle was "SWAuTistic," and who was later arrested by LAPD on a fugitive warrant stemming from bomb threats he phoned in to ABC7, an LA police station. Barriss has a long history of swatting and threats to swat.
The swatting seems to have been the result of a disagreement among two Call of Duty teammates after a loss in an online match that had a $1.50 wager riding on it. One player, "Miruhcle," dared another, "Baperizer," to swat him, and provided Finch's Wichita address. Baperizer appears to have contracted with Barriss/SWAuTistic to send the swat team in, an action that resulted in the Finch's death. Finch's mother says he was not a gamer.
After the death, Barriss seemed to admit to his role in calling in the swat team, tweeting "I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING ASWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION."
Miruhcle also seemed to confirm that Finch was murdered after Miruhcle provided a false address in his dispute with Baperizer ("Someone tried to swat me and got an innocent man killed").
The officer involved is on administrative leave. There is a Gofundme campaign to pay for Finch's funeral.
Former US federal prosecutor Ken "Popehat" White tweeted his view that the parties involved had committed homicide ("This is homicide. We can argue over the degree") and many people pointed out that the incident, in which an unarmed man doing nothing wrong in his own home was shot dead without warning by a police officer speaks volumes about the public perception and training of police in America.
Security researcher Brian Krebs was swatted by a 16 year old Canadian boy who perpetrated at least 30 other swattings. Krebs crawled several weeks' worth of Barriss's tweets before Barriss deleted his Twitter account and switched to a new one, under the handle @GoredTutor36. In these tweets, Barriss took credit for threatening to bomb the FCC during the Net Neutrality hearings .
After tweeting about the incident extensively this afternoon, KrebsOnSecurity was contacted by someone in control of the @GoredTutor36 Twitter account. GoredTutor36 said he’s been the victim of swatting attempts himself, and that this was the reason he decided to start swatting others.
He said the thrill of it “comes from having to hide from police via net connections.” Asked about the FCC incident, @GoredTutor36 acknowledged it was his bomb threat. “Yep. Raped em,” he wrote.
“Bomb threats are more fun and cooler than swats in my opinion and I should have just stuck to that,” he wrote. “But I began making $ doing some swat requests.”
Asked whether he feels remorse about the Kansas man’s death, he responded “of course I do.”
But evidently not enough to make him turn himself in.
“I won’t disclose my identity until it happens on its own,” the user said in a long series of direct messages on Twitter. “People will eventually (most likely those who know me) tell me to turn myself in or something. I can’t do that; though I know its [sic] morally right. I’m too scared admittedly.”
Kansas Man Killed In ‘SWATting’ Attack [Brian Krebs/Krebs on Security]
Call of Duty gaming community points to ‘swatting’ in deadly Wichita police shooting [Nichole Manna/Wichita Eagle]