US gamer jailed over ‘swatting’ death
A teenager who called armed police to a rival gamer’s home in a bid to scare his online opponent has been jailed after the ‘prank’ ended in the death of an innocent stranger.
Ohio 19-year-old Casey Viner was thrown behind bars for 15 months over his involvement in the ‘swatting’ call. Swatting is a form of hoax where pranksters attempt to surprise unsuspecting victims by tricking armed police units into storming their homes.
Viner and his co-conspirator Tyler Barriss lured a SWAT team to what they thought was the home of Shane Gaskill – a rival gamer they were having an argument with online while playing Call of Duty.
Barriss made the hoax call, claiming to be Gaskill and informing officers that he had shot his father and was holding his family hostage before giving what he believed was Gaskill’s address in Kansas.
The address was in fact that of 28-year-old Andrew Finch – an innocent father-of-two who had nothing to do with the online dispute.
Armed officers stormed Mr Finch’s home and opened fire when he ‘moved his hands towards his waist’.
Jailing Viner, US Attorney Stephen McAllister branding swatting as “reckless, dangerous and, as this case proves, potentially tragic” before explaining the officer who discharged the fatal shots would not be prosecuted as they had not responded unreasonably, given the context of the situation.
“Swatting is not a prank, and it is no way to resolve disputes among gamers,” he slammed.
During sentencing, a visibly contrite Viner pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice saying he was “awfully sorry” for what had happened, adding that he thinks of it every day.
Earlier this year, Viner’s accomplice – 20-year-old Tyler Barriss – was jailed for 20 years for his part in the tragedy.
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