Wichita, KS – Police have confirmed that an online gaming prank known as “swatting” led to an unarmed, uninvolved man being fatally shot by officers on Thursday night, KWCH reported.
Andrew Finch, 28, was killed after an unknown person called 911 and falsely reported that there was a hostage situation at an address where Finch resided.
The ill-conceived “prank” is referred to by online gamers as “swatting,” and occurs when someone makes up a fake story in order to get a SWAT team or heavy police response, The Washington Post reported.
"We were told that someone had an argument with their mother and dad was accidentally shot, and that now that individual was holding brother, sister and mother hostage," Wichita Police Department (WPD) Deputy Chief Troy Livingston said, according to KAKE. "We learned through that call that the father was deceased...been shot in the head."
In the 911 recording of the call, the male caller said he shot his father in the head, and that he was no longer breathing.
He told the dispatcher he was armed with a black handgun, and that he was pointing the weapon at his mother and his little brother to keep them in the closet.
“I’m definitely not gonna put it away,” the caller told the dispatcher when she asked to put the gun down.
He then told the dispatcher that he already poured gasoline “all over” the house, and that he “might just set it on fire.”
“In a little bit, I might,” the man said.
The caller disconnected with 911 personnel on at least two occasions.
Officers arrived at the 6:20, just two minutes after they received the call, Deputy Chief Livingston said.
They cordoned off the residence, positioned themselves around Finch’s home, and prepared to make contact with the unknown caller. They also considered the possibility of a standoff, Deputy Chief Livingston explained.
The WPD released a 7-second bodycam clip that showed Finch from across the street as he unexpectedly stepped into the doorway.
Officers were heard as they gave him several verbal commands to put his hands up, and to walk towards them.
“The male complied for a very short time, but then moved his hands back down to his waist area,” Deputy Chief Livingston said. “The officers continued to give him verbal commands to put his hands up, but he lowered his hands again.”
As Finch turned towards officers positioned on one side of his house, he lowered his hands to his waistband again, then “suddenly pulled them back up, towards those officers,” Deputy Chief Livingston said.
An officer positioned across the street feared that Finch had just pulled a weapon, and that he was in the process of pointing it at the officers still positioned at the side of the residence.
“Fearing for those officers’ safety, the officer...fired one round, striking the male,” he said.
Officers swarmed the house, and quickly ascertained that there were no hostages, nor a murdered man inside.
Finch was taken to a local hospital, and was pronounced dead just after 7 p.m., KAKE reported.
“We believe this incident is a case of swatting,” Deputy Chief Livingston said.
According to the Wichita Eagle, more than a dozen people involved in the gaming community told the news outlet that two gamers got into an argument, and that one of the individuals initiated a “swatting.”
One of the gamers reportedly gave the second gamer a false address, and when the second gamer gave the address – and the false report – to 911, officers ended up responding to Finch’s home, the Wichita Eagle reported.
"Someone tried to swat me and got an innocent man killed," on player Tweeted, according to the New York Daily News.
“I DIDNT GET ANYONE KILLED BECAUSE I DIDNT DISCHARGE A WEAPON AND BEING A SWAT MEMBER ISNT MY PROFESSION,” one gamer said on Twitter. Other gamers said he was the one who made the swatting call, the Wichita Eagle reported.
The two players involved in the feud, Miruhcle and Baperizer, have removed themselves from Twitter, Dexerto reported.
Finch was the father of two children – aged 2 and 7, the Wichita Eagle reported.
“He was very kind and caring,” his mother, Lisa Finch said. “He was in gifted classes. He was very artistic. He would do anything for his family.”
One officer, a seven-and-one-half year veteran of the WPD, has been placed on administrative leave, as per protocol for deadly officer-involved incidents, Deputy Chief Livingston said.
Investigation into who placed the deadly 911 call is ongoing.
You can listen to the chilling 911 call, as well as the 7-second bodycam recording, in the video below: