Wednesday, June 13, 2018 4:40 pm
2 gamers plead not guilty in Kansas 'swatting' death
ROXANA HEGEMAN | Associated Press
WICHITA, Kan. – Two online gamers whose alleged dispute over a $1.50 Call of Duty WWII video game bet ultimately led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges related to the "swatting" case that drew national attention.
Casey Viner, 18, of North College Hill, Ohio, and Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud and other counts.
Viner allegedly became upset at Gaskill while playing the popular online game. Authorities say he then asked 25-year-old Tyler Barriss of Los Angeles to "swat" Gaskill, a form of retaliation sometimes used by gamers, who call police and make a false report to send first responders to an online opponent's address.
Barriss is accused of calling Wichita police from Los Angeles on Dec. 28 to report a shooting and kidnapping at a Wichita address. Authorities say Gaskill had provided the address to Viner and later to Barriss in a direct electronic message. But the location Gaskill gave was his old address and a police officer responding to the call fatally shot the new resident Andrew Finch, 28, after he opened the door.
Viner's defense attorney, Jim Pratt, declined comment. The attorneys for Gaskill and Barriss did not immediately respond to an email.
Viner and Gaskill have not been arrested and both were instead issued a summons to appear at Wednesday's hearing. They were each released on $10,000 bond and were ordered not to play online video games or have contact with each other or Barriss.
Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy to make false reports. Barriss also is charged with making false reports and hoaxes, cyberstalking, making interstate threats, making interstate threats to harm by fire and wire fraud. He will not be in court Wednesday.
A first court appearance on the federal charges has not been set for Barriss because the Sedgwick County district attorney is going forward first with his case on the state charges, said Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas.
In the state case, Barriss is charged with involuntary manslaughter, giving a false alarm and interference with a law enforcement officer. That arraignment is June 29.