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Teenage gamer jailed over lethal swatting

Casey Viner got into a spat over a $1.50 wager in a Call of Duty World War II game that led to the fatal shooting of an innocent man.

An Ohio gamer who got into a spat over a $1.50 wager that led to the death-by-swatting of an innocent man has been sentenced to 15 months in prison, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Friday.

Casey S. Viner, 19, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstructing justice.

Viner admitted to arguing with another gamer – co-defendant Shane Gaskill – while playing Call of Duty World War II online. The two gamers were disputing a $1.50 wager. Apparently, one had accidentally “killed” a teammate in the first-person shooter game.

So, as Viner admitted in his plea agreement, he contacted known swatter Tyler Barriss and asked him to swat Gaskill.

Swatting (or SWATting), which takes its name from elite law enforcement units called SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams, is the practice of making a false report to emergency services about shootings, bomb threats, hostage taking, or other alleged violent crime in the hopes that law enforcement will respond to a targeted address with deadly force.

Barriss did as he was asked: he first taunted Gaskill in Twitter direct messages. Gaskill challenged Barriss to go ahead and swat him, according to court records.

But Gaskill then sent Barriss the wrong address: that of a home nearby, at 1033 W. McCormick, in Wichita, Kansas, where he once lived. That misdirection led police to show up at the wrong house – the home of 28-year-old Andrew Finch.

In the recording of the emergency call that cost Finch his life, Barriss told operators that he’d shot his father in the head. He also said that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint in a closet. Barriss said he’d poured gasoline all over the house and that he was thinking of lighting the place on fire.

Police surrounded Finch’s Wichita home, prepared to deal with a hostage situation. When Finch answered the door, he followed police instructions to put up his hands and move slowly. But at some point, authorities said, Finch appeared to be moving his hand toward his waistband as if he was going to pull out a gun.

A single shot killed Finch. He was dead by the time he reached the hospital. Police said the innocent man – the father of two children – was unarmed.

Finch’s family is now suing the police and the city of Wichita for what they say was his wrongful death.

In March 2019, Barriss was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for placing the deadly hoax call. He pleaded guilty to more than 50 felonies nationwide, including federal charges in Kansas of making an interstate hoax that resulted in a death and cyberstalking.

Other swatting incidents connected to Barriss between 2015 and 2017 happened in Ohio, Nevada, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Missouri, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Connecticut and New York.

Viner’s obstruction of justice charge comes from Viner having tried to erase any record on his phone of his communications with Barriss and Gaskill, according to the DOJ.

After serving his sentence, Viner will be banned from gaming for two years.

In court, Viner reportedly said that he was “awfully sorry”, that he never intended anything to happen, and that he thinks of it every day.

US District Judge Eric Melgren told him that intentions didn’t play into his sentencing:

We impose sentences not only for what people intend, but what happened.

There’s still one party to be prosecuted: Gaskill, the intended victim of the swat who gave Barriss Finch’s address. The DOJ says that the gamer has been placed on deferred prosecution.

US Attorney Stephen McAllister described swatting as “more than foolish”. It’s “reckless, dangerous and, as this case proves, potentially tragic,” he said. He called on gamers to self-police their community to ensure that the practice is ended, “once and for all.”

Swatting is not a prank, and it is no way to resolve disputes among gamers.

Amen to that.


The 15 month sentence does nothing to discourage these murders. Our judicial system is disgrace.


The guy who actually called it in got 20 years, not 15 months.


He deserved a lot more than 15 months and a couple of years of not being allowed online for his role. The fact he tried to erase phone records shows he knew what he was doing is wrong. Other comments he made elsewhere show he knew it could be dangerous to instigate what he started. He deserves at least 15 years, same for the person who gave the fake address. Swatting should be a felony with long jail times for all involved.

The fact he was upset enough over $1.50 shows he deserves a much longer sentence. One got a slap on the wrist, This guy got a bit more than a slap on the wrist, but far less than he deserved.These three guys are guilty of manslaughter at least because their actions led to someone’s death. I live in Wichita and the person that dared the other one to swat him deserved the harshest punishment since he gave a false address. He didn’t have the courage to give his real address; sounds pretty gutless to me. The fact he was dumb enough to taunt the other guy shows a questionable lack of judgment and common sense. Hit them in the wallet at the same time to cover the additional costs of their crime in wasted law enforcement costs.

If you don’t think it can happen to you as an innocent bystander, you may find yourself in a similar situation.


The police need to take responsibility for this as well. How many times are these SWAT raids actually necessary? How much training do these cops get in de-escalating situations. Mr Finch’s family deserve a large payout, but the police generally seem to avoid responsibility for consequences that they are largely in control of.


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