Kansas gamer pleads guilty for role in fatal ‘swatting’ case

May 4, 2022 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man has pleaded guilty to his role in a hoax call that led to a fatal shooting of an innocent bystander by Wichita police in 2017.

Shane Gaskell, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to wire fraud in case that drew national attention to “swatting,” during which a caller falsely reports a crime that is dangerous enough to send a SWAT team to the location, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The “swatting” call on Dec. 28, 2017, led to the death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch, who was shot by Wichita police as he opened the door of his home to see why police were outside.

In his plea Tuesday, Gaskell said he got into an argument with another online gamer, Casey Viner, of North College Hill, Ohio, and gave him an old address. Viner recruited another gamer, Tyler Barriss, of Los Angeles, to falsely report a shooting and kidnapping at Gaskell’s old address. A Wichita officer shot Finch after responding to Barriss’ call.

After hearing about the fatal shooting, Gaskill suggested Viner and Barriss “alter or destroy their communications” with him and deleted his message threads, his plea agreement says.

Federal prosecutors initially agreed to an 18-month pretrial diversion program for Gaskill that would have allowed several original charges to be dropped. But prosecutors resumed prosecution in September 2021 after they said Gaskill violated the terms of his diversion.

Gaskill will be sentenced July 21.

Barriss is serving 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in April 2019 to 51 counts associated with the Wichita swatting and other hoax emergency calls across the U.S.

Viner was sentenced in September 2019 to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The officer involved in the shooting was not charged.