“They call it swatting,” says grieving Wichita mother after son killed by police
A 28-year-old Wichita, Kansas man was killed last night by police who were responding to a tip falsely reporting a hostage situation at the man's house. And rumors are swirling in the Call of Duty community that the death was the result of a "swatting" attack gone horribly wrong.
"I heard my son scream, I got up, and then I heard a shot," said Lisa Finch, the mother of shooting victim Andrew Finch, in a video interview with the Wichita Eagle. Police then took Lisa Finch outside, along with "my roommate and my granddaughter, who witnessed the shooting and had to step over her dying uncle’s body," handcuffed them all, placed everyone into separate police cars, and took them downtown for interviews.
Lisa Finch said her son was unarmed and that no guns were found in the house.
"They call it swatting," she added. "I didn't even know it was a thing."
"Swatting" is a sometimes deadly form of harassment where someone calls police in a target's home town and describes a fake emergency situation at the target's home. The situation described by police in Wichita is consistent with a swatting incident.
"We were told that someone had an argument with their mother, and dad was accidentally shot and that now that person was holding brother, sister, and mother hostage," a police official told reporters at a spontaneous press conference after the shooting. He said that a 28-year-old man—later identified by family as Andrew Finch—"came to the front door" and "one of our officers discharged his weapon," killing Finch. No reason for the shooting was given.
So what does that have to do with Call of Duty? Lisa Finch says her son was not a gamer, and it appears that he had no connection to the people who called in the fake tip. But unverified reports on Twitter suggest that the raid on the Finch residence occurred after two Call of Duty players got into a nasty online argument over a tiny wager made on the game. In a show of bravado, one of the gamers reportedly gave the other one a fake address—leading to the random, senseless death of a man who happened to live at that address.
We should stress that we haven't been able to independently confirm reports about who called in the fake police tip, so we're not going to link to tweets naming the specific individuals. We expect the authorities will track down these leads in the coming days.
But the story seems to fit the facts. "Swatting" is a real problem in the gaming world—one member of Congress has even proposed legislation to combat the issue. And it's hard to imagine why else someone would call in a completely fake hostage situation.
Swatting is stupid, dangerous, and illegal. Most of the time, these prank calls merely give the victim a huge scare, while wasting massive amounts of police resources (and your tax dollars). But sometimes, fake calls to police lead to more deadly consequences, as Thursday's incident illustrates.
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